Massive Canadian wildfire destroys 1,600 buildings forces evacuation of 88,000

Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada has experienced the kind of disaster you only see in movies. A forest fire was whipped up by strong winds forcing the evacuation of the town. CBC News reports on the damage so far:

Alternatively described by officials as “catastrophic,” a “multi-headed monster” and a “dirty, nasty” fire, the blaze is at least 10,000 hectares in area and has destroyed more than 1,600 structures. It could threaten the entire community, they said.

If you’re wondering, 10,000 hectares is equivalent to 38 square miles. Wednesday morning the city’s fire chief gave a press conference at which he said, “We successfully evacuated 88,000 people. No one is hurt and no one has passed away.” But CBC News reports he choked up before adding, “I really hope that we can get to the end of this day and we can still say that.” Later that day, two people were killed when a tractor trailer and an SUV crashed on the highway out of town.

One resident of a neighborhood called Beacon Hill filmed his escape from the flames with a dashcam. Later reports suggest that much of his neighborhood was completely destroyed:

Most residents had to flee down a single highway heading south, many without even returning to their homes to collect any of their belongings. But the fire burned up to the road, engulfing motorists in smoke. Some were forced to turn around and head north where they were given shelter at oil company work camps. This Global News video published Tuesday shows the scene near the freeway out of town:

A bus that was seen passing the flames in one news report eventually had flames coming up against the windows and caught on fire according to a man who escaped:

There’s even a follow-up story on the mass exodus of people coming down Highway 63 looking for food for their families and gas for their cars:

Fort McMurray