Fort McMurray ‘85%’ intact after wildfire

Alberta’s premier declared Canada’s oil-sands city safe and said a plan would be put together within two weeks so 88,000 residents could return to their homes.

Fort McMurray ‘85%’ intact after wildfire

Two neighbourhoods in Fort McMurray have been devastated.

Incinerated homes have been levelled, after a wildfire that the city’s fire chief called a “beast ... a fire like I’ve never seen in my life”.

However, Fire Chief Darby Allen said 85% of the city remained intact, including the downtown district.

The city’s premier, Rachel Notley, said 2,400 homes and buildings were destroyed, but firefighters saved 25,000 others, including the hospital, municipal buildings, and every functioning school.

“This city was surrounded by an ocean of fire only a few days ago, but Fort McMurray and the surrounding communities, have been saved and they will be rebuilt,” Ms Notley said.

A meeting with the energy industry will discuss the state of their facilities and the impact on operations.

Ms Notley got her first direct look at the devastation on Monday, after cold temperatures and light rain had stabilised the massive wildfire, such that officials have begun planning to get thousands of evacuated residents back.

The break in the weather encouraged officials that a turning point had been reached in handling the massive wildfire.

The temperature dipped to 7ºC on Monday, following a week of unseasonably warm temperatures.

Ms Notley flew in on Monday to meet local officials and toured the town, before holding a news conference at the emergency centre.

“I was very much struck by the devastation of the fire. It was really quite overwhelming in some spots,” said Ms Notley.

“But I will also say that I was struck by the proximity of that devastation to neighborhoods that were untouched.”

Forty journalists were allowed into Fort McMurray on a bus, escorted by police.

The forest surrounding the road into town was still smouldering and there were abandoned cars.

Only the sign remained at a Super 8 Motel and Denny’s restaurant on the edge of town.

The Beacon Hill neighbourhood was a scene of utter devastation, with homes burned to their foundations.

Mr Allen said that, in Beacon Hill, the fire jumped across a road that is 5m-6m wide.

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