Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Work Camps North of Fort McMurray Evacuated Due to Growing Wildfire

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Work Camps North of Fort McMurray Evacuated Due to Growing Wildfire

Article excerpt

Workers evacuated due to growing wildfire

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FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. - A harsh reminder of the perils still at play in the Alberta wildfires emerged Monday night as about 8,000 people at work camps north of Fort McMurray were ordered out in a mandatory evacuation.

Earlier in the day, about half that number had been put on a precautionary evacuation notice, meaning non-essential personnel would move out but others could stay.

But by about 10 p.m., the decision had been made to stretch the mandatory evacuation zone about 50 kilometres north of Fort McMurray to just south of Fort MacKay.

It included Syncrude and Suncor facilities, along with several smaller operations.

"All camps and production refineries north of Fort McMurray and just south of Fort MacKay, including Aostra Road, are to evacuate immediately," said the alert.

"All evacuees are to head south on Highway 63 if possible."

The order did not include the hamlet of Fort MacKay, Athabasca Camp or the Beaver River Camp.

John Archer, a spokesman for the Alberta government, stressed the move was being done in an orderly fashion.

"By and large, I believe the fire has not encroached too much more upon Suncor or Syncrude, but the reason why the call was made tonight is so they're not starting an evacuation at 2 a.m.," he explained.

"I don't think the threat is that much more acute now than it was earlier."

Late Monday, Suncor issued a news release confirming it had "started a staged and orderly shutdown of our base plant operations" and that personnel were being transported to work camps further north.

It stressed there has been no damage to Suncor infrastructure.

"Suncor has enhanced fire mitigation and protection around all of its facilities," said the release. "When it is safe to do so, we will continue implementing our restart plans."

The entire population of Fort McMurray, more than 80,000 residents, are now entering their third week away from home. …

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