Raging fire forces entire city of Fort McMurray to evacuate

A wildfire whipped by winds has spread into the outskirts of the major Alberta city, forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes

Smoke fills the air as cars line up on a road in Fort McMurray, Alberta on Tuesday May 3, 2016 in this image provide by radio station CAOS91.1. At least half of the city of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta was under an evacuation notice Tuesday as a wildfire whipped by winds engulfed homes and sent ash raining down on residents. (CP)

Smoke fills the air as cars line up on a road in Fort McMurray, Alberta on Tuesday May 3, 2016 in this image provide by radio station CAOS91.1. At least half of the city of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta was under an evacuation notice Tuesday as a wildfire whipped by winds engulfed homes and sent ash raining down on residents. (CP)

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. – The entire population of the Alberta oilsands city of Fort McMurray was under a mandatory evacuation order Tuesday as a raging wildfire destroyed buildings, pushed billowing dark clouds of thick smoke into the air and spit ash down on residents.

An earlier order that had applied to almost 30,000 people, mostly on the city’s south side, was extended to tens of thousands more as hungry flames continued to eat their way into the city.

The wildfire, whipped by unpredictable winds on a day when the temperature reached 32 C, worsened dramatically in a short time and many residents had little notice to flee. Towers of bright-orange flames cut through the clouds and skipped over tinder-dry forest.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the province was doing all it could to ensure everyone’s safety. She said she was looking into the possibility of an airlift for residents with medical issues.

“As frustrating and as scary as it is to leave your home, it’s not as frustrating and scary as to find that you’re trapped,” Notley said in a late-afternoon update.

“It is absolutely important that people follow instructions and evacuate as requested.”

Scott Long of Alberta Emergency Management said the flames had burned a number of structures, but he couldn’t say how many.

Carol Christian’s home was in one of the neighbourhoods under the order to leave. She said it was scary as she drove to an evacuation centre with her son and cat.

“When you leave … it’s an overwhelming feeling to think that you’ll never see your house again,” she said, her voice breaking.

“It was absolutely horrifying when we were sitting there in traffic. You look up and then you watch all the trees candle-topping … up the hills where you live and you’re thinking, ‘Oh my God. We got out just in time.”

Work camps associated with oilsands projects well north of the city were being re-purposed to house evacuees.

“We’ve made our work camp available to staff and their families who have been evacuated and need a place to stay,” said Cameron Yost of Shell Canada.

Smoke fills the air near a parking lot in Fort McMurray, Alberta on Tuesday May 3, 2016 in this image provide by radio station CAOS91.1. At least half of the city of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta was under an evacuation notice Tuesday as a wildfire whipped by winds engulfed homes and sent ash raining down on residents. CP

Smoke fills the air near a parking lot in Fort McMurray, Alberta on Tuesday May 3, 2016 in this image provide by radio station CAOS91.1. At least half of the city of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta was under an evacuation notice Tuesday as a wildfire whipped by winds engulfed homes and sent ash raining down on residents. CP

Resident Mark Durocher, 25, described the air as “thick.”

“If you just walk outside, you feel it (ash) falling on you. You see it floating in the air. I can take a broom and brush it off my deck,” said Durocher.

“You can taste it and feel it when you’re walking around. It feels really heavy and you can taste just how ‘woody’ it is in the air.”

A local radio reporter said a trailer park that had been evacuated on Monday was on fire and flames were advancing toward businesses.

“It’s chaos on the roads. People are panicking. It’s gridlock on the roads. Flames are right next to a gas station,” said Carina Van Heerde with radio station KAOS.

Highway 63, the main way into Fort McMurray from the south, was closed after flames jumped the road.

Coun. Keith McGrath described the situation as “dire.”

Another radio reporter, J.D. Deraadt, said the fire flared up suddenly.

“I’m feeling nervous. It’s a bit of a surreal thing to see it go from nothing to big. It’s very disheartening.”

Pictures posted on Twitter showed long lines of traffic and skies darkened by thick smoke as flames licked the edges of roads.

Fort McMurray is the capital of Alberta’s oilsands region and sits about 435 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which includes Fort McMurray, had an overall population of 125,000 in 2015. That included a temporary “shadow” population — many of whom live in work camps — of 43,000.

It’s five years ago this month that wildfires destroyed about one-third of the community of Slave Lake, Alta. More than 500 homes and buildings were damaged at a cost of almost $1 billion.

Crews had seemed to be making progress controlling the Fort McMurray blaze, burning since the weekend, but the situation worsened quickly.

Smoke fills the air as people drive on a road in Fort McMurray, Alberta on Tuesday May 3, 2016 in this image provide by radio station CAOS91.1. At least half of the city of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta was under an evacuation notice Tuesday as a wildfire whipped by winds engulfed homes and sent ash raining down on residents. (CP)

Smoke fills the air as people drive on a road in Fort McMurray, Alberta on Tuesday May 3, 2016 in this image provide by radio station CAOS91.1. At least half of the city of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta was under an evacuation notice Tuesday as a wildfire whipped by winds engulfed homes and sent ash raining down on residents. (CP)

Sandra Hickey, who lives in a neighbourhood under an evacuation order, said the situation changed quite suddenly.

“When I got in the shower earlier today the sky was blue. When I got out, the sky was black,” said Hickey, who had to leave her home. “It was fast. The wind picked up and changed direction.”

Fire officials had already warned earlier in the day that rising temperatures and low humidity could help the fire grow.

“Don’t get into a false sense of security,” fire chief Darby Allen said during a media briefing before things worsened. “We are in for a rough day.”

Crews were busy cutting down a line of unburned trees in the path of the flames to deny the fire fuel. Air tankers were dropping carpets of fire retardant while other aircraft released water.

Unseasonably hot temperatures combined with dry conditions have transformed the boreal forest in much of Alberta into a tinder box. The wildfire threat ranging from very high to extreme.

Forestry spokesman Bruce Mayer said a cold front was expected to come through the region by mid- to late-day Wednesday, which would bring with it shifting winds gusting to 50 km/h. He said to expect “a more intense burning day.”

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Raging fire forces entire city of Fort McMurray to evacuate

    • How gracious of you to chime in to remind of everybody of the type of character “progressives” have Emily, as per usual.

      • I’m as gracious as Albertans have been to us Ontarians ever since Ralph Klien called us “eastern bastards”

        • Ordinary people who’s homes are burning right now have nothing to do with the offhand snark of politicians.
          From two decades ago.

          Your personalty is contemptible and behavior indefensible, and you make a point of reminding everyone of this as often as you can.

          This isn’t an us vs them thing. Not at all. You are on your own here.

          Us Ontarians? Not so much. I know that there are many decent rational people in Ontario, who would recoil at the thought of being associated with you. Especially if they were aware of the sum of toxic, petty, vitriol you spew on these forums.

          Feel free to spit out some more bile to give yourself the last word. I’m not talking to you for your benefit.

          Good day.

          • RJAJ….

            I knew Emily would approve of this fire, and the loss of the livelhoods of the people in that area.

            You can be sure, that the Greenies, the Sierra Club, everyone who works at the Suzuki foundation, and every other “progressive” who wants to save the planet from “Climate Change” are glad that this particular piece of the planet is being devastated.

            Don’t pay much attention to Emily; no one here takes her seriously; though I’m sure she means it.

          • Albertan’s have spent all the years since then, screaming about McGinty and Wynne, the deficit, the debt, the auto industry, and every other silly thing they can think of

            they are especially nasty about climate change efforts because it would harm their oil

            well now its all coming home to roost for them, and I have nooooo sympathy

          • James, who are all these “progressives” you are always talking about?

            We haven’t had a party by that name since the 1930’s when they merged with cons.

          • Jameshalifax – don’t use Emily’s shitty attitude to smear the rest of us. These are Canadians in crisis, they are losing their homes and deserve nothing but sympathy and support.

          • And by your comment jameshalifax you show yourself to be as ignorant as anyone else who would use such a tragedy for partisan purposes. But somehow unsurprising…

          • TJ, you are correct. I should not lump the “progressives” in with EMily. Emily is a “regressive” and I’m sure it has a lot to do with her genes.

            And Mellor…I’m not using anything for partisan purposes. In fact, I’ve already seen the comments by the usual suspects that the fire is the result of “climate change”……(in other words, it is the fault of those working in that region in the oilfields.)

            Pay attention…you’ll see it too.

        • Oh, for goodness sake, EMILYONE, get over yourself. This is about the trials of ordinary people who are suffering a tragedy that is both sad and dire. It is hardly the time for petty grievances. Our thoughts are with the people who are struggling with the kind of loss that any of us fear.

          • And JAMESHALIFAX, I’m afraid you are just as bad as EMILYONE. This is about the lives and well being of good people. It is disgusting that you would use this for your particularly vindictive and irrational platform. Anyone who knows one whit about climate change knows that attributing global warming as a causal factor in an event like like this fire is asinine. It is most likely that this fire was caused by humans, either intentionally or accidentally, and slightly less likely by lightening or other natural event. Global climate change is about climate, not weather.

          • Ummm…Doug.

            go back and re-read what I wrote. I was making fun of (disparaging) those idiots who would use the fire as an excuse to promote their “climate change” agenda.

            If you had read anything I have written previously, you would have known I am a well known “climate skeptic” (Not a skeptic, as I know the who climate change thing is just a ‘Scam) on this site.

        • Ralph Klein said that in 1982. He was the mayor of Calgary. I was 20 years old. Now I am 53. More than 3 decades have passed and your talking like it happened yesterday. Didn’t anyone tell you that resentment is like taking poison and hoping it kills the other person? Ralph Klein is deceased. Let it go. You have lost your ability to empathize with human beings who are hurting and many aren’t even from the province you hate.

          • Gage,

            the only thing Emily hates more than religion, God, or plumbers….is an Albertan.

            It’s ok though. I think it is pretty clear, that those on the LEFT and the RIGHT on this site…..all know she’s an idiot.

          • Love the poison comment, it’s bang on. Hopefully Emily will find the antidote one of these days.

  1. You don’t mind causing the rest of us climate grief…so it’s only fair you share the results

    You guys did it, you guys solve it.

    • Emily the causes of climate change are many & varied. The oil sands are but one part.
      Your classless & crass comments speak volumes about your lack of sympathy & empathy for people who are losing their homes & everything they own. Not to mention the risk to peoples lives!
      Stop being an ignorant jerk!

      • It was never crass and classless when cons attacked Ontario when people here were losing their homes and lives, apparently.

        Sorry, no sympathy.

        • So, EMILYONE, you think it is okay to perpetuate hate? I am one of JAMESHALIFAX’S hated greenies, but I support the people of Fort McMurray without reservation. Neither you nor James offers a way forward.

          • Doug,

            I am an environmentalist….but I am most definitely not a “Greenie”

            Environmentalist – keep nature safe, preserve it, protect it, but don’t be a slave to it.

            Greenie – people be damned….I’m out to hug a tree.

            And the Greenies, are the folks who deny real science, and simply DEMAND we all obey their commands. Al Gore is an idiot, but not as much of an idiot as those who watched his movie and believed it.

            Al got Rich.

            His fans got duped.

          • Sadly Emily is one of these people who are “right” even when they’re wrong.
            I usually don’t bother attempting to engage with her. (she’s attacked me in the past when I was mostly agreeing with her) but I just couldn’t let this one pass.

        • It takes a big person to admit when they’re wrong. I guess we know exactly how big (er, small) you are :-)

      • Kay…

        If you want to know what causes climate change…..go outside and look up. It is that big ball of burning hydrogen in the sky. That, and that alone is your climate control device.

        Besides, whenever there is an increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, the planet does change somewhat…..it teems with life.

        Bring it on.

        • James, I prefer to get my information from scientists thanks. Whether you want to believe it or not climates all over the world are changing & not for the better. And reputable scientists believe that human behaviour is the biggest influence on those changes.

          • Good to know, Kay….

            Here are some very smart scientists just for you:

            “We’re not scientifically there yet. Despite what you may have heard in the media, there is nothing like a consensus of scientific opinion that this is a problem. Because there is natural variability in the weather, you cannot statistically know for another 150 years.” — UN IPCC’s Tom Tripp, a member of the UN IPCC since 2004 and listed as one of the lead authors and serves as the Director of Technical Services & Development for U.S. Magnesium.”

            Yep..he seems credible.

            And this – from a guy at NASA

            “Any reasonable scientific analysis must conclude the basic theory wrong!!” — NASA Scientist Dr. Leonard Weinstein who worked 35 years at the NASA Langley Research Center and finished his career there as a Senior Research Scientist. Weinstein is presently a Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute of Aerospace.”

            More: (and this dude is just a physicist with a Nobel Prize)

            ““Please remain calm: The Earth will heal itself — Climate is beyond our power to
            control…Earth doesn’t care about governments or their legislation. You can’t find
            much actual global warming in present-day weather observations. Climate change is a matter of geologic time, something that the earth routinely does on its own without asking anyone’s permission or explaining itself.” — Nobel Prize-Winning Stanford University Physicist Dr. Robert B. Laughlin, who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1998, and was formerly a research scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

            “In essence, the jig is up. The whole thing is a fraud. And even the fraudsters that
            fudged data are admitting to temperature history that they used to say didn’t
            happen…Perhaps what has doomed the Climategate fraudsters the most was their brazenness in fudging the data” — Dr. Christopher J. Kobus, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Oakland University, specializes in alternative energy, thermal transport phenomena, two-phase flow and fluid and thermal energy systems and has published peer-reviewed papers.”

            More: (Silly Russian…saying what I have been saying for years)

            ““The energy mankind generates is so small compared to that overall energy budget that it simply cannot affect the climate…The planet’s climate is doing its own thing, but we cannot pinpoint significant trends in changes to it because it dates back millions of years while the study of it began only recently. We are children of the Sun; we simply lack data to draw the proper conclusions.” — Russian Scientist Dr. Anatoly Levitin, the head of geomagnetic variations laboratory at the Institute of Terrestrial Magnetism, Ionosphere and Radiowave Propagation of the Russian Academy of Sciences who has 4 published numerous peer-reviewed studies about the interaction of solar radiation with
            the Earth’s magnetic field.


            ““Hundreds of billion dollars have been wasted with the attempt of imposing a
            Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) theory that is not supported by physical world evidences…AGW has been forcefully imposed by means of a barrage of scare stories and indoctrination that begins in the elementary school textbooks.” — Brazilian Geologist Geraldo Luís Lino, who authored the 2009 book “The Global Warming Fraud: How a Natural Phenomenon Was Converted into a False World Emergency.”

            ““I am ashamed of what climate science has become today.” The science “community is relying on an inadequate model to blame CO2 and innocent citizens for global warming in order to generate funding and to gain attention. If this is what ‘science’ has become today, I, as a scientist, am ashamed.” — Research Chemist William C. Gilbert published a study in August 2010 in the journal Energy & Environment titled “The thermodynamic relationship between surface temperature and water vapor concentration in the troposphere” and he published a paper in August 2009 titled “Atmospheric Temperature Distribution in a Gravitational Field.” [Updated December 9, 2010”


            ““The dysfunctional nature of the climate sciences is nothing short of a scandal.
            Science is too important for our society to be misused in the way it has been done within the Climate Science Community.” The global warming establishment “has actively suppressed research results presented by researchers that do not comply with the dogma of the IPCC.” — Swedish Climatologist Dr. Hans Jelbring of the Paleogeophysics & Geodynamics Unit at Stockholm University. [Updated December 9, 2010. Corrects Jelbring’s quote.”


            ““Global warming is the central tenet of this new belief system in much the same way that the Resurrection is the central tenet of Christianity. Al Gore has taken a role corresponding to that of St Paul in proselytizing the new faith…My skepticism about AGW arises from the fact that as a physicist who has worked in closely related areas, I know how poor the underlying science is. In effect the scientific method has been abandoned in this field.” — Atmospheric Physicist Dr. John Reid, who worked with Australia’s CSIRO’s (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) Division of Oceanography and worked in surface gravity waves (ocean waves) research.”

            more: (another silly Russian)

            ““There are clear cycles during which both temperature and salinity rise and fall. These cycles are related to solar activity…In my opinion and that of our institute, the problems connected to the current stage of warming are being exaggerated. What we are dealing with is not a global warming of the atmosphere or of the oceans.” — Biologist Pavel Makarevich of the Biological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.”

            More: (note: reference to Micheal Mann – though, this dude is just a lowly astro-physicist…..)

            ““The whole idea of anthropogenic global warming is completely unfounded. There appears to have been money gained by Michael Mann, Al Gore and UN IPCC’s Rajendra Pachauri as a consequence of this deception, so it’s fraud.” — South African astrophysicist Hilton Ratcliffe, a member of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa (ASSA) and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and a Fellow of the British Institute of Physics.”

            Ok, there are hundreds more just like it….but these are guys you will never hear from in the maintsteam media, or in the “science” journals as they presently stand. No one is allowed to hear from the real scientist, who practice REAL SCIENCE.

            Kay, the current discussion (one sided of course) of climate change proclaims to have saving the planet as their goal. The REAL goal of course, is to distribute the wealth of the Western Nations, to the developing world. Many of these developing nations, are paying a lot of money to some “scientists” to keep the alarmist narrative going, as they foresee a huge winfall of WEstern money coming their way. And given the nature of many of these developing nations, you can be sure most of the money will be stolen.

            Kyoto, Copenhagen,Paris….all of these agreements are about taking your cash. As more people begin to doubt what they are being told, the more strident the fear mongering becomes.

            That is why the PARIS agreement is so important to these scientists, and others’ who have based their reputation (and income) on the planet being killed by humans. thirty years from now, when the oceans have not risen, and the planet has NOT burned…these climate alarmist scientists will point to the Paris agreement and proclaim, “See..we were right” we stopped the planet from being destroyed.

            The King has no clothes, Kay53. And the scientists who are pointing this out should be applauded, not censored.

            You’re being scammed.

          • James: So you’ve mastered the art of cut & paste. Good to know. But what the hell does your screed have to do with what the topic of this article?

  2. Go through the lists and lists of fundraisers for Fort McMurray. It will restore your faith in the goodness of humans, even though there are Emily-ones around to try and spoil it. The whole country is asking “what can we do to help”. God bless them all.

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