Fort McMurray fire
One resident describes the Fort McMurray widlfire as "Armageddon"Scott Olson/Getty

Canada is seeing one of the largest evacuations in its history. The wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alberta, have already forced 80,000 people out of their homes, after a mandatory evacuation order was issued. The province has declared a state of emergency, as 250 firefighters battle the flames.

"It was kind of like Armageddon," describes Dam Smith, who moved with his family to the northern Alberta city three years ago. "There were cars abandoned on the side of the highway. There were cars abandoned on the median. There were burnt cars everywhere."

Jim Dunstan, who evacuated with his wife and two sons after the flames engulfed his part of the city on Friday, said the city looked like a "war zone". "It was shocking to see the damaged cars all burned on the side of the road. It made you feel lucky to get out of there," he told the Toronto Star.

On Tuesday, as temperatures rose to 32C wildfires burning near the city spread due to strong winds, catching residents and fire officials off-guard. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said an estimated 1,600 structures have already been lost to the fire.

An estimated 25,000 residents fled to the oil camps in the north of the province after highways were cut off by fire and smoke. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and government forces have worked for several days to bring the group south by air and road.

Several RCMP-led convoys have led evacuees in cars south through Fort McMurray, giving residents a drive-by glimpse of the scorched town which was once their home.

"It was thick, black smoke. You should see about 10 feet in front of you," Smith described to local news of how he had seen buildings that had been completely burned to the ground as he drove past. He and his family are now in Edmonton where they'll await word of their own home's fate, according to CTV. "There's not a lot left, to be honest. The Beacon Hill area especially, it looks like the end of the world. It was awful."

Many communities in towns surrounding Fort McMurray are offering shelter and food for the families displaced by the fire. Many local businesses are offering free meals, petrol stations are offering free fuel. The Canadian government has pledged to match donations made by the Red Cross, which now stands at C$30m (£16.11m).

Canadian couple watch helplessly on CCTV as wildfire destroys their homeIBTimes UK