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Canada wildfires: Hopes raised in battle to contain blaze

Май 9, 2016    
Canada wildfires: Hopes raised in battle to contain blaze

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The battle to contain the wildfires in west-central Canada has reached a turning point, partly thanks to drizzle and favourable winds, say officials.

One minister warned much work lay ahead but "we may be turning a corner".

A fifth of homes in the oil sands city of Fort McMurray have been destroyed and more than 80,000 people evacuated.

But the fire had not spread as fast as had been feared, said Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who will survey the devastation on Monday.

"With a bit of help from Mother Nature and a lot of help from firefighters and first responders, the fire grew a lot more slowly than we feared," she said.

On Saturday, officials had said they expected it to double in size.

The fire covered 1,610 sq km (622 square miles) on Sunday morning, said Ms Notley, and was about 30-40km from the neighbouring province, Saskatchewan.

There have been no deaths from the fire but Ms Notley became emotional when she paid tribute to two evacuees who died in a car accident during the evacuation.

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A team from the provincial government will enter Fort McMurray on Monday to begin preliminary planning on repairing damage in the city.

The gas has been turned off and the power grid is damaged, while the water is not drinkable.

Map showing area affected by wildfire

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Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said "we may be turning a corner" but warned it was too early to celebrate overcoming the blaze.

Officials who have toured the city say it might be years before it is running normally again.


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