The wildfire that has devastated parts of Fort McMurray has exploded in size, and officials say they are now water bombing the city to keep it from being overwhelmed by flames.
Officials could not update the number of structures that have burned already at 16-hundred — saying crews have not had the time to do another count.
Chad Morrison of Alberta Forestry says this is an extreme fire event and their first priority was the community and the homes as well as the critical infrastructure.
Morrison says they have 22 water bombers and are bringing in more, including four from Quebec.
But he stresses that air tankers are not going to stop this fire.
Morrison says the fire is going to continue to push through these dry conditions until we actually get some significant rain.
Aided by high winds, scorching heat and low humidity, the fire grew from 75 square kilometres Tuesday, 100 square kilometres on Wednesday, but by today it swelled to almost nine times that — at 850 square kilometres.
The fire remains wrapped around the west and southern edges of the city.
About 25-thousand evacuees remain in oilfield work camps north of Fort McMurray while the rest had moved south to stay in hotels, campgrounds, with friends, or in designated areas in Edmonton and as far south as Calgary.
Premier Rachel Notley says the province is exploring “a broad range of supports” for evacuees and expects to roll out some initial aid plans soon.
She had a message to those who have been displaced from their homes — “we have your back. You will be supported.”
The government says some of the 25-thousand evacuees in the work camps north of Fort McMurray will be moved out so they can get more social supports in the south.
Scott Long, with the Alberta Emergency Management Agency, says they would move out the most vulnerable — about eight-thousand or so — by air.
The Red Cross is taking donations for the victims of the Fort McMurray fire. There are several ways to donate.
There is an online form to make donations simpler.
You can also make a $5 donation by texting REDCROSS to 30333.
You can also call toll free: 1-800-418-1111