UPDATE: Changing weather patterns mean evacuation orders have now been issued for Anzac, Gregoire Estates, and Fort McMurray First Nation. The evacuation is scheduled for 11 p.m. and buses will leave at midnight.
The Alberta government has declared a provincial state of emergency in Fort McMurray. The wildfire has burned more than 10,000 hectares of land and destroyed 1,600 structures. Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee says the decision came after Premier Rachel Notley saw the severity and scope of the situation first hand.
“To better support the municipalities and their emergency operations in Fort McMurray, the provincial state of emergency will enable us to bring more measures to support those operations to the table. A provincial state of emergency will also allow additional resources from outside the province.”
There are currently 250 firefighters battling the blaze, alongside helicopters and air tankers. Senior Manager of Wildfire, Agriculture and Forestry Chad Morrison says they’re still experiencing extreme conditions that are rapidly changing.
“Very hot and dry conditions out there with extreme wildfire behaviours occurring on all fronts around the fire at this time. Winds have shifted and they’re blowing from the west about 25 gusting to 40 [kilometres an hour]. Reports on the ground are likely that the fire’s going to be around the 10,000 hectare mark.”
Roughly 10,000 evacuees headed north are are staying in oil and gas camps. Another 70,000 made it to the south of the province where more evacuation centres are being set up. The Department of National Defence is also ready to offer logistical support.