- On Wednesday, May 4, 2016, failure to suppress the fire made officials finally decide that Canada’s main oil sands city be emptied of residents
- Around 88,000 people were successfully evacuated and as per reports no one was hurt in the process
- Officials describe it as the biggest incident of evacuation in the province
Canadian officials finally decided on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 that residents of Canada’s main oil sands city should evacuate after all efforts to suppress the fire have failed.
Describing the fire to a correspondent as published on The Guardian on Wednesday May 4, 2016, Fort McMurray Fire Chief Darby Allen said, “This is a nasty, dirty fire. There are certainly areas of the city that have not been burned, but this fire will look for them and it will find them and it will want to take them.”
He also expressed what they expected after battling with the fire on Tuesday May 3, 2016; saying: “We had a devastating day yesterday and we are preparing for a bad day today.”
With the officials’ decision to evacuate residents, he also said, “We successfully evacuated 88,000 people. No one is hurt and no one passed away right now. I really hope we can get to the end of this and we can still say that.”
Evacuees found their way to the evacuation camp that had been set up outside the danger zone, while others went to the city of Edmonton, which is 435 km away to find a shelter, as shared in the the Guardian report.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs of Alberta, Danielle Larivee, also said, “the province has declared a state of emergency and the fire is actively burning in residential areas. Over 200 firefighters are battling the blaze.”
In a similar article published on the ABC News, Alberta Emergency Management Agency headed by Scott Long said, “It’s a possibility that we may lose a large portion of the town.”
It was also cited in the article that critical infrastructures in the city are being protected by firefighters including the only bridge crossing the Athabasca River and Highway 63, which is the only major route in going in and out of the city.
Top Canadian officials like Alberta Premier Rachel Notley called the incident in Alberta “the biggest evacuation in the history of the province”. Meanwhile, Ralph Goodale, the Federal Public Safety Minister, said, “It’s a community of 88,000 people that’s been totally evacuated”; therefore he called it as one of the largest fire evacuations in Canadian history, if not the largest.
He also said it’s going to take a while to recover.