11 May Devastation in Fort McMurray
Around 90,000 inhabitants of the Canadian oil Town of Fort McMurray had to be evacuated after firefighters were unable to contain a huge wildfire.
Five days after it broke out the fire covered an area in excess of 400 square kilometres and Canadian government officials feared it would spread from the state of Alberta into Saskatchewan State next door.
There were no reports of casualties as the Fort McMurray residents were moved by air and road more than 40 miles from their homes but the blaze also threatened to have an impact on Canada’s economy.
Fort McMurray is the heart of Canada’s oil sands region. The Alberta oil sands are the third largest reserves of oil in the world behind Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
Most of the oil sands projects are situated north of the community and while the worst of the flames were on the city’s south side ten companies had said they were forced to shut down oil production facilities.
Particular concern was expressed about Nexen’s Long Lake oil extraction site. A fire official said: “We’re looking at a blast area of about 14 kilometres if that plant were to go.”