State of emergency in Alberta after wildfires

May 05, 2016, 6:47 AM EDT
Alberta wildfire in 2011
(Source: Mike Beauregard/flickr)

The raging wildfire, which led to a mass evacuation in the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, has forced the authorities to declare a state of emergency it the province of Alberta. Whipped up by dry winds, the blaze engulfed 1,600 structures in the city and advanced alarmingly towards airport and neighboring communities.

With the declaration of emergency, Alberta can seek federal funds for its rehabilitation, said Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who conducted an aerial survey to assess the situation, notes the BBC. The firefighters tried hard to control the “catastrophic fire” but all “suppression methods” proved futile, told Bernie Schmitte, an official at Alberta's agriculture ministry.

Although no casualties resulted from the fire itself, fatalities were reported in a car accident, writes Reuters. The locals have been forced to flee and take shelter in “arenas, hockey rinks and oil work camps” with limited access to food and fuel supplies. An official from Alberta’s emergency management agency feared the fire may gut “a large portion of the town.”

This is the second incident of a major blaze in Alberta within a year, reports Al Jazeera. Last year in May, hundreds of workers were evacuated from the region, which resulted in a 9 percent drop in the province’s oil sands output.