Canada Evacuates High-Producing Oil Town As Wildfires Burn

Authorities warned residents of the high-producing oil town of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, to be prepared for evacuation as wildfires continue to burn.

Alberta reportedly issued a notice last week that said an “out-of-control” wildfire of more than 2,400 acres in size posed an “extreme” risk to the Fort McMurray Forest Area.

Fort McMurray residents told CTV News that they did not want to repeat the fires of 2016 and were ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice this time.

“Last time, we weren’t [prepared]. My husband didn’t even believe me, then he turned on the radio, and it said, ‘You have 30 minutes to evacuate.’ And we were like, ‘What do we do?’” resident Courtney Sweeney said.

“This time around, people just want to be really, really cautious, but, at the same time, make sure you follow the actual news updates. And don’t try and follow too much on social media because sometimes things get blown out of proportion,” she continued.

Alberta Wildfire spokeswoman Josee St-Onge said a new weather system arriving could push the fire back toward Fort McMurray, but due to a break in extreme conditions, firefighters were given more time to prepare.

“There are containment lines in place, and there are fire guards being built, so all of that puts us in a better situation. We’re pretty confident that, if the wind shifts in a direction where we don’t want it to go, that we would still be able to hold it,” she said.

“We’ve had some rainfall at a good time to bring down the fire danger at a time when it could have become much more escalated, so we’ve been lucky in that sense, and we’ve been able to keep the fires that started fairly small,” St-Onge stated.

“A bit of rain buys us some relief and some time, but it doesn’t overcome drought conditions that have been here for years. We are still on alert and ready to respond to new wildfires because we will see more. We’re just getting started on the season,” she continued.