A raging wildfire that forced the evacuation of all 88,000 residents of the western Canadian city of Fort McMurray has destroyed 1,600 structures, ravaged one neighborhood, damaged others and halted incoming and outgoing commercial flights, authorities said on Wednesday.
“This is a nasty and dirty fire,” Chief Darby Allen of the Fort McMurray fire department told reporters of a blaze that has prompted the biggest evacuation ever in Canada’s Alberta province.
Fuel shortages and heavy traffic snarled the departure of residents from Fort McMurray, located in the northeastern part of the province of Alberta in the heart of Canada’s oil sands region.
Firefighters have not been able to bring the wildfire under control since it began on Sunday, and hot, dry winds forecast for later on Wednesday promised to complicate matters. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the military would deploy planes to help the stricken city if needed.