Firefighters look to get ‘death grip’ on huge Fort McMurray blaze

Officials say they are making great progress in the battle to bring under control a Canadian wildfire that has put entire communities in danger. Firefighter Chad Morrison said cooler temperatures and light rain in Alberta were providing great firefighting weather. The monster blaze, which has become the country’s costliest ever natural disaster, has forced the evacuation of 88,000 people from the city of Fort McMurray. The wildfire grew in size on Saturday into Sunday but not as much as expected. It is now around 397,000 acres - bigger than all of Greater London.

For us, this is great firefighting weather, we can really get in there and really get a handle on this fire and really get a death grip on it.

Firefighter Chad Morrison

Winds of up to 37mph (60kph) were fanning the flames, but rainfall appeared to be dampening the blaze’s spread later on Sunday evening. It came as officials completed the evacuation of 25,000 residents from camps and homes in the district surrounding Fort McMurray. Meanwhile, a video has emerged of an emotional fire chief telling reporters how his colleagues are heroes. Fire captain Adam Budgen said: “I’m in the company of heroes. But we’re just doing what we want by keeping our homes safe. We don’t have a choice. It’s not like we can just leave, and watch your home burn.”

I don’t consider myself a hero. But I’ve met more heroes in this experience than I’ve ever thought existed.

Capt Adam Budgen