Sources on ground have confirmed that the wildfire evading most of McMurray is now pushing further today as high winds spur it toward major oilsands facilities owned by Suncor and Syncrude. However, the facilities used to process bitumen are surrounded by wide barriers of cleared firebreak and gravel, and employ their own firefighting crews.
Senior wildfire manager, Chad Morrison, explained that “we expect the [fire] to move east towards Suncor’s facility, Northlands sawmill and potentially towards northern portions of Fort McMurray,” adding that “but we’re still optimistic that firefighters will continue to hold those northern neighbourhoods.” He assured that “we feel fairly confident those sites themselves will be OK.” Latest report states that the fire grew by 70,000 hectares overnight, and now covers 355,000 hectares.
Addressing the media regarding the latest updates about the fire, Premier Rachel Notley alleged that “mother Nature continues to be our foe in this regard and not our friend.” It was confirmed that the fire also forced mandatory evacuation of all work camps in a 60-kilometre area between Fort McMurray and Fort MacKay on Monday. This resulted in displacement of about 8,000 non-essential workers. Notley stated that “the remaining staff will ensure site safety and stability, while it is safe to do so,” adding that “plans are in place to evacuate them, if and when needed. We expect fire growth in the area of many of these camps today.”
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