Canadians drive through burning city seeking safety

Canadians drive through burning city seeking safety


FORT MCMURRAY, Canada — Canadian police led convoys of cars through the burning ghost town of Fort McMurray on Friday in a risky operation to get thousands of people to safety on the other side.

Monster forest fires were continuing to burn out of control in the parched region, and could potentially double in size by the end of Saturday, said Chad Morrison, senior manager of wildfire prevention at the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Division.

The blaze in Alberta's oil sands region will not be extinguished for "a very long time" until there is significant rain, he said.

There was a 30-percent chance of rain on Sunday, the Canadian government forecast said, followed by sunny conditions on Monday. More rain was possible later in the week.

In the latest harrowing chapter, convoys of 50 cars at a time made their way through Fort McMurray at about 50-60 km per hour, TV footage showed.
Police took up positions at intersections along the way to keep evacuees from detouring to try to salvage belongings from charred homes and make sure the route remains safe from the fire, which has encircled the town of 100,000, now evacuated.

Three army helicopters hovered above to sound the alert if the flames got too close to the road, Highway 63, or cut it off completely, as has happened in recent days. Those being evacuated — for a second time, after first abandoning their homes — had fled this week to an area north of the city where oil companies have lodging camps for workers. — AFP