Free Press Journal

Oil sites ordered evacuated as Canada wildfire flares up


Montreal: Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for some 20 oil sands camps and facilities in Canada’s Alberta province due to smoke and flames from the Fort McMurray wildfire, regional emergency officials said.

The evacuation orders, which affect some 8,000 people, were issued late Monday (0200 GMT Tuesday) for a region between Fort McMurray and a few kilometers south of the town of Fort MacKay, officials said.

“The evacuation zone has increased north of the city of Fort McMurray due to evolving fire conditions,” the regional municipality of Wood Buffalo said.

“Several camps are affected by this evacuation. Approximately 8,000 people impacted,” the statement read.

Canadian oil company Suncor said it “is in the process of transporting personnel from the lodges on Aostra Road and near its base plant facility to other lodges further north.” And as a precautionary measure,”we have started a staged and orderly shutdown of our base plant operations. There has been no damage to Suncor’s assets,” the company added in a statement.

Another oil company, Syncrude, also operates in the area.

Alberta Prime Minister Rachel Notley on Monday mentioned difficult conditions throughout the area, with intense fire producing thick smoke.

Workers in the Fort McMurray area may need gas masks due to the risk posed by the fumes from the fire, Notley said, adding that the air quality is three times worse than acceptable levels.

The fire has delayed the repair of damaged infrastructure in Fort McMurray, which was evacuated two weeks ago. (AFP)