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Alberta premier calls Fort McMurray wildfire “heartbreaking”

A grim picture is emerging of the destructive force of a wildfire that continues to eat away at the northern Alberta oilsands city of Fort McMurray.

The blaze swept into the community yesterday afternoon when the wind suddenly strengthened and shifted.

Premier Rachel Notley says there’s been significant damage to many buildings — adding the fire is expected to spread into other neighbourhoods today.
Fire officials say 16-hundred houses and structures have been burned so far.

Senior Manager of Wildfire Prevention Chad Morrison says crews are expected to face an even more difficult day fighting the flames.

An official with Alberta Emergency Management says fire crews in Fort McMurray are doing their best but admits they may lose a large portion of the town.

Premier Notley and other Alberta officials say the outlook remains grim as a catastrophic wildfire moves north through Fort McMurray after obliterating neighbourhoods in the city’s south and west.

Fire crews backed by helicopters and air tankers are bracing for more incursions from the walls of flame that have already destroyed about 16-hundred buildings and forced more than 80-thousand people to flee.

There are no reports of injuries or deaths but Alberta Emergency Management spokesman Scott Long says there’s a possibility that a large portion of the city may be lost.

The wildfire is still listed as out of control and by mid-day the looming flames had forced officials to abandon their evacuation command centre near the airport.
Notley — who flew to Fort McMurray to see the situation first-hand — tweeted pictures of the fire from above and called the view from the air “heartbreaking.”

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