Massive wildfire threatens Canadian oil sands

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Source: Petro Global News

A massive wildfire in Alberta has forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate Fort McMurray, home to some of the largest oil sand reserves in Canada.

According to Reuters, about 44,000 people had evacuated Fort McMurray by Tuesday night as high winds pushed the blaze into the city’s limits.

The fire began on Sunday and temporarily closed off Highway 93, forcing some residents to evacuate to oil sands camps north of the city.

No casualties have been reported.

Fort McMurray is home to several oil sands operations with estimated reserves of 2.5 trillion barrels of bitumen, according to Fort McMurray Online.

Shell Canada said late Tuesday that it has opened its Albian Village to all evacuees.

Suncor is also welcoming evacuees at its Firebag facility north of the city.

Suncor said that its plant located about 15 miles outside of Fort McMurray is in safe condition but the company has reduced production to allow employees and their families to get to safety.

“We recognize that employees and their families are in different circumstances throughout the region and must consider their personal safety first,” Suncor said in a social media post. 

Representatives from Syncrude, Nexen Energy and Enbridge told Reuters that their operations have not been impacted by the fire.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo said on Wednesday that 80 percent of homes in Beacon Hill have been destroyed while Abasand and Waterways neighborhoods have suffered “serious loss.”

As of Wednesday morning, the evacuation order was still in effect and residents were not allowed to return to their homes.