Thousands to flee in motorway convoy as Canada wildfire rages through city

Thousands of people will be moved from work camps outside wildfire-devastated Fort McMurray in a mass motorway convoy on Friday. They will become part of the largest evacuation in Canadian history, if the road out of the city is declared safe. The convoy will involve 400 cars with a helicopter flying ahead to make sure the path is safe. Officials said 8,000 people were airlifted from the city on Thursday and the airlift would continue on Friday. Meanwhile, fire crews are hoping a drop in temperature and the prospect of rain could help them tackle the blaze, which has torched 210,000 acres.

Let me be clear: air tankers are not going to stop this fire. It is going to continue to push through these dry conditions until we actually get some significant rain.

Chad Morrison, Alberta Forestry

More than 80,000 people have left Fort McMurray in the heart of Canada’s oil sands since an order to clear out was issued on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the blaze, which began as a small bush fire has grown into a raging inferno, sweeping through the city, destroying hundreds of homes and other buildings. TV footage showed the smouldering remains of a large motor home park and the blackened carcasses of cars consumed by the flames. Prime minister Justin Trudeau told Canada’s parliament: “Homes have been destroyed. Neighbourhoods have gone up in flames. The footage we’ve seen of cars racing down highways while fire races on all sides is nothing short of terrifying.”

We had next to no warning. I was able to grab some clothes, toiletries, a hard drive and laptop, passport and my Brazilian jiujitsu belt.

Evacuee Cameron Spring