Evacuees left in limbo as Fort McMurray fire rages

World Today

Members of the Alberta Royal Canadian Mounted Police monitor the Fort McMurray Wildfire, on May 7, 2016 in Fort McMurray, Canada. (AFP PHOTO / Alberta RCMP)

The devastating wildfire continues to ravage the Fort McMurray area of Alberta, Canada. The forest fire now covers around 2,500 square kilometers, displacing an estimated 90,000 people.

CCTV’s Jim Spellman reports this story from Edmonton.

Evacuees left in limbo as Fort McMurray fire rages

The devastating wildfire continues to ravage the Fort McMurray area of Alberta, Canada. The forest fire now covers around 2,500 square kilometers, displacing an estimated 90,000 people. CCTV's Jim Spellman reports this story from Edmonton.

As the raging wildfire closed in on Fort McMurray, Jody Gallagher and Jamie Mills knew it was time to evacuate.

“It was pandemonium. It was crazy,” Mills said.

They hit the road and snapped pictures as they evacuated.

“We could see the smoke and the glow from the fire. It looked like it’s pretty far away but then two minutes later, Bam! It was right there right across the street from us,” Mills said.

They are just two of the more than 80,000 people forced to evacuate from the Fort McMurray area, often with little more than the clothes on their backs. Many of them are in Edmonton staying in hotels or with family and friends.

“It’s a little overwhelming but we’re safe,” Gallagher said. “we’ve got friends here to help out.”

Their house didn’t burn, but they don’t know when they can return. The future is even less certain for many.

“I heard the line behind our home burned, but we are not sure about our house,” evacuee Vikas Shiledarbaxi said.

He is staying with his sister in Edmonton while he awaits news about his home.

Several locations have been established for evacuees to register and receive prepaid debit cards worth about $1,000. Elsewhere food and other supplies are being distributed.

“This Monday I’ll be flying back to Fort McMurray to live there in the company camps for a week and then come back for the weekend,” evacuee Vijay Shirhatti, an engineer with an oil company in Fort McMurray, said.

As he gets back to work, his family will remain in Edmonton.

“I really appreciate the people in Edmonton, they have really opened up their houses, their arms and their hearts for us. I really appreciate it,” Shirhatti said.