About 80,000 residents, the entire population of the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, have fled as a raging wildfire destroyed homes. The fire located in the heart of the oil sands region, in Canada's western province of Alberta, is said to one of the biggest wildfires in the region.
The inferno, which has doubled to 10,000 square miles within a span of 24 hours, has already destroyed several homes though no serious injuries have been reported so far. Local authorities are concerned the blaze is too dangerous even for the firefighters to tackle.
"This is the biggest evacuation we have seen in the history of the province," Alberta Premier Rachel Notley reportedly told a press conference. "We need to find more camps, we have secured spaces for about 6,000 people, we know we need to find more and that work is underway."
The premier added: "I know that it's a very scary time. I know it's a very, very stressful time for people to have to leave their homes under these conditions." A gridlock has been caused on the main road connecting the city, with thousands of inhabitants trying to leave the affected areas.
Though the blaze has brought down several houses and businesses, the exact extent of the damage could not be ascertained yet.
"My thoughts are with people affected by the fire in Fort McMurray tonight. We stand ready to help," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posted on Twitter.
Local authorities also fear the worst is yet to come as the province is relatively drier than normal this year. Bernie Schmitte, the city's wildlife manager, said: "No the worst of the fire is not over. We're faced with high temperatures and low humidity tomorrow as well as strong winds."
Fort McMurray has also sought the help of the federal air force and the army to tackle the situation. Several flights from and to the city have been cancelled. At least nine air tankers, over 12 helicopters and 150 firefighters are battling to contain the blaze.