Canada getting on top of Alberta wildfire, Fort McMurray off limits

Updated: 2016-05-09 10:06


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Canada getting on top of Alberta wildfire, Fort McMurray off limits

Dave Crowley waits for updated about the raging wildfires while staying at a camp in Wandering River after evacuating Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, on May 8, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

Even though the fire has largely pushed through Fort McMurray, the town is still too dangerous to enter.

Nearly all of Fort McMurray's residents escaped the fire safely, although two people were killed in a car crash during the evacuation. The town's 160 firefighters worked nearly non-stop in the first days of the fire, even as some of them lost their own homes, said fire captain Nick Waddington.

Thousands of evacuees are camped out in nearby towns but stand little chance of returning soon, even if their homes are intact. The city's gas has been turned off, its power grid is damaged, and the water is undrinkable.

Provincial officials said displaced people would be better off driving to cities such as Calgary, 655 km (410 miles) to the south, where health and social services were better.

"We are thinking about relocating in Edmonton for the time being. Maybe stay a year," said Kyle Mackay, 27, a mechanic for equipment trucking company Northern Diesel, who fled from Fort McMurray to Lac la Biche, about three hours' drive south, and is now staying with friends.

His girlfriend Sarah Smith, who left separately, is pregnant and due to be induced into labor in Lac La Biche on Monday morning. "It's really stressful, but I know we'll get through it," said Mackay.

The provincial government has promised evacuees pre-paid debit cards to cover immediate costs, with C$1,250 per adult and C$500 per dependent, expected to cost about C$100 million.

At present there are more than 500 firefighters battling the blaze in and around Fort McMurray, with 15 helicopters, 14 air tankers and 88 other pieces of equipment, Alberta officials said.