Canada wildfire forces mass evacuation

Huge wildfire at Fort McMurrayImage copyright

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The fast-moving wildfire has already destroyed a number of homes

A huge wildfire has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from the city of Fort McMurray in central Canada, officials say.

The blaze has destroyed a number of homes, dropping ash on the streets of the city in the province of Alberta.

Fleeing residents have caused gridlock on the main road leading from the city, 380km (235 miles) north of Edmonton.

Fort McMurray – which lies in Alberta’s oil sands region – has a population of more than 60,000 people.

Local officials are being quoted by Canadian media as saying that most of the city is being evacuated, as the fire is growing rapidly.

“If you just walk outside, you feel it (ash) falling on you. You see it floating in the air. I can take a broom and brush it off my deck,” resident Mark Durocher was quoted as saying by the Globe and Mail.

Homes in at least two neighbourhood have been gutted, and the fire has now spread to Highway 63 – the main road into Fort McMurray from the south.

Firefighters are continuing to tackle the blaze, but the local authorities have called for reinforcements, including a water-dumping helicopter.

So far there have been no reports of any injuries.

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