A wildfire has forced out hundreds of residents in Canada’s oil sands hub of Fort McMurray

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A wildfire burns in northern Manitoba near Flin Flon, as seen from a helicopter surveying the situation on May 14. (AP)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, May 15, (AP): Hundreds of residents in four neighborhoods in the southern end of Canada’s oil sand hub of Fort McMurray, Alberta, were ordered to evacuate with a wildfire threatening the community, authorities said Tuesday.
The Rural Municipality of Wood Buffalo said residents in Beacon Hill, Abasand, Prairie Creek and Grayling Terrace needed to leave by 4 p.m.
An emergency evacuation warning remained in place for the rest of Fort McMurray and surrounding areas.
The rural municipality said the residents in the four neighborhoods were being ordered out to clear room for crews to fight the fire, which had moved to within 13 kilometers (8 miles) of the city.
Fort McMurray has a population of about 68,000, and a wildfire there in 2016 destroyed 2,400 homes and forced more than 80,000 people to flee.
“It’s very important for me to know that this fire activity is very different than the 2016 Horse River wildfire. We have an abundance of resources and we are well positioned to respond to this situation,” Regional Fire Chief Jody Butz said.
Suzy Gerendi, who runs the dessert shop in the Beacon Hill neighborhood, said she was already packed up when the evacuation order came down. Gerendi lived in Beacon Hill when fire overtook it in 2016.
She immediately began the drive towards Edmonton, Alberta with her three dogs.
“It’s very, very dark and orange,” Gerendi said. “It brings up some memories and it’s not a good feeling.”
Residents were also dealing with heavy smoke and ash.
“It’s dark. The smoke is everywhere,” said resident Else Hoko.
Hoko picked up her two sons from school in Abasand after receiving the evacuation order. She had also fled in 2016.
“I’m so stressed,” she said, adding that she’s praying for rain.
The Beacon Hill and Abasand neighborhoods saw serious losses in 2016.

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