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1,600 structures lost in Fort McMurray wildfire

More than 10,000 hectares of land has been burned by the wildfire in Fort McMurray.

Crews worked through the night and reported that by 5 o’clock this morning all structure fire within the city were extinguished.

“This is a nasty, dirty fire. There is certainly areas that have not been burned, but this fire will look for them and it will find them and it will want to take them, and our challenge today is to try and prevent that, and prevent any more structure loss,” says Fire Chief Darby Allen.

Premier Rachel Notley estimates 1,600 structures have been destroyed and that about 88,000 people were evacuated. It is the largest fire evacuation in the province’s history. Wood Buffalo Acting Director of Community Services, Dale Benfeld, says they’re continuing to check homes day and night for stragglers.

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“So we’ve been doing it by presence patrols, door knocks, bullhorns; anything that can draw anybody out to know that we are in and around. All of the emergency lights are on, so at this time we’re confident we’ve done as much as we can to get everybody the message to get out.”

Officials have also taken in 48 stranded animals to a reception centre. Lakeland College’s Vermilion campus is offering to house horses and other large animals for the duration of the crisis. The college’s small animal clinic also has space for 16 dogs.

Chief Allen says the best way for people from other communities to help is by donating to the Red Cross, along with offers of equipment and apparatus.

The Fort McMurray wildfire has so far resisted all suppression efforts. According to CTV Edmonton, the area of Beacon Hill appears to have been hardest hit. Officials say that 80 per cent of the homes there have been destroyed. While the cold front coming through today will help with humidity, it could also bring lightning.

In addition, three hundred RCMP members from throughout Alberta have now been deployed to Fort McMurray to assist local detachment personnel in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s Emergency Operations.

During a Declaration of Local Emergency, the RCMP is responsible for enforcement of all laws which include enforcing the Declaration of Local Emergency and its ordered mandatory evacuation, search and rescue, the safety and security persons and property within the affected areas, and controlling access points on the highways leading into the community.

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