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Oil workers evacuated as Fort McMurray wildfire spreads rapidly north

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By Euronews  with Reuters
Oil workers evacuated as Fort McMurray wildfire spreads rapidly north

Firefighters in central Canada are struggling to control a huge, 285,000-hectare blaze, provoking fresh fears it will reach major oil sand facilities.

As the wildfires spread north, a further 4,000 people were evacuated from work camps on the outskirts of Fort McMurray in Alberta. This, almost two weeks after the city’s entire 90,000-strong population was forced to flee.

Alberta Premier, Rachel Notley assured the public that safety precautions were in place.

“Both (oil companies) Syncrude and Suncor have emergency plans in place, which they are operationalising, and firefighters in place as well. Officials are confident that should additional trigger lines be crossed that people can be evacuated safely if necessary.”

Firefighters say the blaze has been travelling as fast as 30-40 metres a minute in some places, prompting officials to give precautionary evacuation orders to a further 8,000 people.

Authorities say the air quality in Fort McMurray has greatly deteriorated. Normally measuring from 1-10 on the air quality health index, the city was at 38 on Monday (May 16).

Most of the city remains intact, but hotspots burning in the vicinity are preventing residents from being allowed to return home.