Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Alberta officials say oil sands city saved from fire's worst

Published:Wednesday | May 11, 2016 | 5:00 AM
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley speaks to members of the media at a fire station in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

ALBERTA (AP):

Alberta's premier has declared Canada's oil sands city has been largely saved and said a plan will be put together within two weeks so most of the 88,000 evacuees can return to their homes.

At least two neighbourhoods in Fort McMurray became scenes of utter devastation with incinerated homes leveled by a wildfire that the city's fire chief called a "beast ... a fire like I've never seen in my life."

But the wider picture was more optimistic as officials said 85 per cent to 90 per cent of the city remains intact, including the downtown district.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said about 2,400 homes and buildings were destroyed, but firefighters managed to save 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," Notley said.

She said the fire continues to grow outside the city and now is about 790 square miles (2,020 square kilometers) in size.