Cooler weather, rain could ease Canadian wildfire

  • 06/05/2016

Cooler weather and possible rain are forecast for the Canadian city overwhelmed by a wildfire, raising hopes the blaze can be controlled.

The fire is being fanned southwards from Fort McMurray where about 1600 structures have been destroyed, but it's now threatening three other communities where residents have been ordered to evacuate.

Yesterday, an entire city was seemed alight with the sky blackened like a scene from a doomsday film.

Over 88,000 terrified residents were forced to evacuate, unsure if they'll have homes to return to.

"We only have what we have on our backs," said one Fort McMurray resident.

One couple spoke of fleeing the flames with their dogs and two-week-old baby. They left behind most of their belongings but were thankful to be alive.

"Last night basically our neighbourhood got evacuated, I left work and I was coming home and the smoke clouds and everything else, it was raining ash."

With only one way in and out of the city, they sat in gridlock for 10 hours before finally reaching the safety of Edmonton, just over 400 kilometres away.

"It feels like when you're camping and the smoke of the fire blows on your face, that's what it feels like just constantly and you can't get out of it. And it's terrifying with a newborn because she can't cough the smoke out of her lungs like we can," they said.

Despite the flames destroying whole neighbourhoods, the only reported casualties were two people killed in a crash as they tried to evacuate.

So far more than 1600 buildings have burned to the ground and one of the fires is heading straight for the city's airport.

"It's been the worst day of my career," said one fire officer. "The people here are devastated, the community's going to be devastated. This is going to go on, this is going to take a while for us to come back from."

It's still unknown how the fires began.