A Massive Wildfire in Canada Just Forced an Entire City to Be Evacuated

“Everything I’ve ever known is burnt to the ground.”

Mary Anne Sexsmith-Segato/The Canadian Press/AP

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A massive wildfire has devastated the oil town of Fort McMurray, Alberta, where overnight on Tuesday, the city’s entire population of 80,000 residents were ordered to evacuate. The wildfire, which started over the weekend, has already burned more than 74,000 acres. In one neighborhood, 80 percent of the homes were reported destroyed.

The Toronto Star reports officials are seeking help form the Canadian military to assist in controlling the crisis, with high temperatures and clouds of smoke continuing to envelop the region. As firefighters struggled to contain the fire on Wednesday, fire chief Darby Allen indicated that powerful winds still threatened to exacerbate the situation.

“I would say it’s been the worst day of my career,” Allen told CBC Ottawa. “The people here are devastated, everyone’s devastated, the community is going to be devastated. This is going to take us awhile to come back from, but we’ll come back.”

“It’s a nasty, ugly fire and it is not showing any forgiveness,” he added.

On social media, residents fleeing the area reported scenes of chaos:

On Wednesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered to provide Fort McMurray with federal assistance, pledging to support residents through the crisis.

“I really do want to highlight that Canada is a country where we look out for our neighbors and we are there for each other in difficult times,” Trudeau said. “And certainly in Fort McMurray, the difficult times they are going through right now is something that we are going to unite around.”

As Climate Central explains, the Fort McMurray fire is “the latest in a lengthening lineage of early wildfires in the northern reaches of the globe that are indicative of a changing climate. As the planet continues to warm, these types of fires will likely only become more common and intense as spring snowpack disappears and temperatures warm.”

Click below to watch Climate Desk’s video explaining the link between climate change and wildfires:

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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