Millennium Post

Canadian convoy begins, hoping to flee wildfire zone

A massive convoy was under to move evacuees stranded at oil field camps north of Fort McMurray, Alberta amid a massive wildfire that officials fear could double in size by the end of Saturday.

As police and military oversaw the procession of at least 500 vehicles, a mass airlift of evacuees resumed. A day after 8,000 people were flown out, 5,500 more were expected to be flown out yesterday and another 4,000 were expected to be airlifted today.

More than 80,000 people have left Fort McMurray in the heart of Canada' oil sands, where the fire has torched 1,600 homes and other buildings. The mass evacuation has forced as much as a quarter of Canada's oil output offline according to estimates and is expected to impact a country already hurt by a dramatic fall in the price of oil.

The Alberta provincial government, which declared a state of emergency, said yesterday the size of the blaze had grown to more than 101,000 hectares (249,571 acres). No deaths or injuries were reported.

The government said 1,100 firefighters, 110 helicopters, 295 pieces of heavy equipment and more than 27 air tankers were fighting the fire. But Chad Morrison, Alberta's manager of wildfire prevention, said the fire covers 101,000 hectares (249,571 acres) and "there is a high potential that the fire could double in size by the end of tomorrow."  

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