Thousands evacuated as fire threatens oil town approaches

Fires threaten again in Canada. On Tuesday, several thousand residents in the town of Fort McMurra were ordered to evacuate due to an approaching wildfire.

Located in Alberta (west), this city of 70,000 inhabitants is doubly known because it is the center of Canada’s oil production and also the symbol of the biggest disaster in the country’s history, in terms of destruction, after was partially ravaged by flames in 2016.

Residents rush to evacuate

“We are observing extreme behavior of the fire” which “is being pushed towards the city by the wind,” said Josée St-Onge, spokesperson for the Alberta Fire Department, during a press conference.

This fire, which has already consumed 9,600 hectares of forest, is now only 13 kilometers from the city. All southern neighborhoods (Prairie Creek, Abasand, Grayling Terrace and Beacon Hill) therefore received an evacuation order midday Tuesday.

At the end of the afternoon, under a sky obscured by smoke from forest fires, huge lines of cars crowded onto the highway to leave the area. Many residents are still traumatized by the chaos that surrounded the 2016 evacuation of 90,000 residents via the only access road to the town surrounded by forest.

“Assets placed to respond to the situation”

“I’m very anxious because in 2016 my apartment burned down so I’m reliving all of this,” says Ashley Russell, a resident of Fort McMurray. The latter does not live in an evacuated neighborhood but she has already packed her “suitcases”, so as not to be caught off guard like eight years ago. “I’m ready to go. »

However, the region’s fire chief Jody Butz wanted to reassure the population, saying that “the fire activity is very different from that of 2016”. “We have abundant resources and we are well positioned to respond to the situation,” he said.

After experiencing the worst fire season in its history last year, Canada experienced one of its warmest winters, with little snow in many regions. Severe or extreme drought conditions in much of the country raising fears of another apocalyptic summer.

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