Over 80,000 residents have been forced to evacuate the oil sands rich area near Fort McMurray, Alberta as a massive wildfire that began this weekend continues to burn.
The Rural Municipality of Wood Buffalo said in a social media post that a mandatory evacuation has been ordered for residents in Anzac, Gregoire Lakes and Fort McMurray First Nations after weather patterns changed and began pushing the blaze south.
Anzac had been serving as a temporary shelter for some evacuees who reside in Fort McMurray, Reuters said.
The fire began Sunday and temporarily closed off Highway 93, forcing some residents to evacuate to oil sands camps north of the city.
No casualties connected to the blaze have been reported.
Flights in and out of Fort McMurray have canceled, NBC News said.
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.
The blaze has not reached oil sands sites near Fort McMurray but Nexen Energy said Thursday that it is initiating a planned shutdown of its Long Lake facility.
“This is being done as a precaution to ensure the safety of our staff in the event that the fire reaches our Long Lake location,” Nexen said.
The company is also sharing its resources with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo emergency responders as well as other operators who are responding to the emergency.
Nexen is also providing accommodations for about 175 Alberta emergency personnel responding to the wildfire.
Suncor said Thursday that it has conducted an orderly shutdown of its base plant operations.
“In addition, with the reduced availability of diluent in the region, our in situ facility operations are running at reduced rates,” the company said.
Syncrude facilities are also operating at reduced rates.
All of Suncor’s operations in the RMWB region remain in safe condition, the company said.
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo said Wednesday that 80 percent of the homes in Beacon Hill have been destroyed while Abasand and Waterways neighborhoods have suffered “serious loss.”
Firefighters were able to save a water treatment plant on Thursday but a new school building being built in North Parsons was destroyed by the blaze.