Connect to share and comment
Out-of-control forest fires destroy a third of Slave Lake, Alberta, forcing 7,000 to flee and causing oil companies to stop production .
Wildfires stoked by high winds have destroyed more than a third of a town in northern Canada, forcing thousands to flee and causing oil companies to cut production in the country's largest energy-producing province.
Hundreds of firefighters converged on Slave Lake, Alberta, and ensured that all 7,000 of the town’s residents had evacuated before the fires began blazing through the area, reducing entire neighborhoods of homes and businesses to ashes. The evacuation order reportedly came after the wildfires had already encroached on the town.
A government center and library were destroyed in the fires, but no injuries or fatalities have been reported in what an Alberta cabinet minister called the largest single-day displacement of people in the province’s history. Slave Lake is reportedly 95 percent empty, with only emergency staff remaining.
A video shows the aftermath of devastation fo the town:
The wildfires have forced oil companies near Slave Lake in Alberta, the largest energy producing province in Canada, to shut off oil production to protect employees and installations, Reuters reports.
Canada is the largest supplier of oil to the United States, exporting more than 2 million barrels a day.
Canadian Natural Resources has evacuated a 1,300-person work camp near its Horizon Oil Sands operation in northern Alberta as fires reached the doorsteps of lodges, AFP reports. Several other companies have started evacuations, and dozens more have said they are planning for quick exits if the fires spread.
While Alberta frequently experiences forest fires, they usually occur in remote areas and don’t threaten property, The Globe and Mail reports.
The mayor of Slave Lake called the destruction in the town "truly devastating,” and said that it would "take a while to rebuild.”
"It's heart-wrenching as people lose their homes, their livelihood. For myself, I'm just trying to remain focused on the task at hand," Karina Pillay-Kinnee told the Calgary Herald newspaper.
More than 100 wildfires are currently burning in Alberta, and roughly 40 of them are considered to be out of control. The Canadian government has deployed 1,000 firefighters, 100 helicopters and 20 water bombers to battle wildfires in the province.
See more photos of the fire.