timberlands boots A small fire turns into The Beast
Alberta Forestry wildfire experts are at the mercy of the weather when forest fires burn out of control. The Fort McMurray blaze that at first seemed manageable turned into a raging inferno bearing down on the city in less than an hour. Here a rundown of how a destructive fire wound its way into northern Alberta largest municipality, and the events that followed. Sunday, May 1
When the wildfire that would eventually engulf Fort McMurray was discovered by fire crews on patrol Sunday afternoon. It was just two hectares in size. They immediately jumped on the blaze. Within a couple of hours, four air tankers had also been deployed. just two hours after it was found it had grown to 60 hectares. Sunday
Wood Buffalo emergency measures department says the south end fire is moving east and tells people in the Centennial Park Campground, on the west side of Highway 63, to leave their trailers. The municipality warns residents in the Beacon Hill and Gregoire neighbourhoods to be prepared to leave on short notice. An evacuation centre opens on MacDonald Island in the centre of the city. The 120 hectare fire is 4.8 kilometres west of Gregoire, on the west side of the Hangingstone River. Sunday
Mayor Melissa Blake declares a local state of emergency in Gregoire and issues a mandatory evacuation order for at least 500 people in Centennial Park, the Prairie Creek area south of Airport Road, and Gregoire. Monday,
The fire reaches 1.2 km west of Highway 63 and Airport Road. It has not yet crossed the Hangingstone River. Monday
The mandatory evacuation order for Gregoire is lifted to a in place order. Monday
The mandatory evacuation order for Prairie Creek is lifted to a in place order. Firefighters and heavy equipment hold the fire 1.2 km west of Highway 63. The blaze grows to 1,250 hectares by the end of the day. Tuesday, May 3
Although firefighters on the east edge of the fire hold the line, the blaze grows substantially to the west and is 2,656 hectares.
Fort McMurray Fire Chief Darby Allen says the fire has crossed the Athabasca River toward the northwest part of town. Tuesday
People living in Abasand, Grayling Terrace and Beacon Hill receive mandatory evacuation notices. Residents living south of Thickwood Boulevard between Real Martin Drive and Thicket Drive in the Ross Haven neighbourhood, west of the Athabasca River, are told to be ready to leave with 30 minutes notice. Tuesday
The fire reaches the city. Mobile homes in Centennial Park and houses in Abasand begin to burn. Thickwood is under a mandatory evacuation notice. Tuesday
The shelter in MacDonald Island Park is evacuated.
All of Fort McMurray is put under a mandatory evacuation order. People leaving share pictures on social media of the Super 8 hotel and Denny restaurant near Beacon Hill ablaze. People begin to flee to oilsands camps in the north and other communities in the south on Highway 63, the only major road through Fort McMurray.