CANADA wildfire
By early evening on Friday, 6 May, around 1,200 vehicles had passed through Fort McMurray despite a one-hour interruption due to heavy smoke, authorities said Scott Olson/Getty

The fire that has consumed the Albertan city of Fort McMurray in Canada is expected to double in size as rescue crews are working to subdue the flames. The fire, which has forced 80,000 residents out of their homes is raging across 1,010km sq – about two-and-a-half times the area of The Isle of Wright – is expected to double in its range by the end of Saturday, 7 May.

On Thursday, 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."

One resident describes the scenes of his town as "hell on Earth" to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Canada may ask the US for help in tackling the uncontrollable wildfire, officials said.

Thousands of people have been airlifted from oil field camps to Edmonton, where temporary shelters and emergency operation centres have been set up. Twelve thousand other 12,000 evacuees are being provided with food, clothes and somewhere to sleep in the small town of La Biche, 175 miles away from Fort McMurray.

Alberta's government is offering payment of $1,250 (£670) to adults and $500 (£286) for their dependents help with their immediate needs.

As the evacuation order began Tuesday for Fort McMurray residents, hard decisions had to be made about what special possessions to quickly grab along with necessities. They are expected to flee to Edmonton or Calgary, where residents and officials are holding food and clothing drives and raised money for victims. Others offered to put up families in their own homes. Restaurants gave out free meals.

Alberta has already seen 330 wildfires this year, more than double the recent annual average. The fire Is said to be cause drier conditions than usual , which has lead to an increased of fires. Managers overseeing the effort have warned the fire could burn "for a very long time" unless the area receives significant rainfall.

Fort McMurray and the surrounding areas have the third-largest reserves of oil in the world, and the fire has led to significant economic impact, seeing global crude prices surge in recent days as production in the region has been shut down.