A ferocious wildfire wreaking havoc in Canada has doubled in size and officials have warned the situation in the parched Alberta oil sands region was “unpredictable and dangerous”.
“This remains a big, out of control, dangerous fire,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said of the raging inferno, that is now bigger than London.
Winds were pushing the flames east of the epicentre around the city late on Saturday local time as nearly all 25,000 people who were still trapped to the north finally left town either via airlift or convoys on the roads.
The blaze has forced the evacuation of the city of Fort McMurray.
The wildfire doubled in size in one day, and covered more than 200,000 hectares by midnight and continued to grow, the Alberta Emergency Management Agency said in an update.
“Fire conditions remain extreme,” it said.
The Government crisis agency cautioned that fire conditions remained extreme in the province due to low humidity, high temperatures and gusty winds.
Some 1,570 square kilometres have been devastated since the blaze began almost a week ago, Mr Goodale said.
“It looks like the weather in and around Fort McMurray will still be, sadly, very conducive to serious burning conditions.”
Still, in a glimmer of positive news, the authorities have recorded no fatalities directly linked to the blaze so far.
Cooler, moist air with some chance of rainfall could help slow the fires in the coming days, Alberta Fire Service director Chad Morrison said.
However, “we need heavy rain,” he added. “Showers are not enough.”
The only “good news,” he said, was the wind was pushing the fires away from Fort McMurray and oil production sites to the northeast, presenting less threat to people although causing serious damage to the environment.
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