Gusting winds and “tinder-dry” conditions were feeding the beast of a blaze in western Canada early Friday, as officials warned it could be days or weeks before evacuated locals can return home.
The fires in the province of Alberta forced 88,000 people to flee and destroyed more than 1,600 structures. Officials were waiting to see if it would be safe to get another convoy of evacuees out on Friday, according to local media.
Around 328 square miles have been scorched. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley praised the “herculean” firefighter response but warned late Thursday that the inferno could spread due to “tinder dry” conditions.
“They are very early days,” she told a press conference. “There is much more to do and more help will be needed.”
Notley acknowledged the frustrations of evacuated locals desperate for answers but urged patience.
“The damage to the community of Fort McMurray is extensive and the city is not safe for residents,” Notley said. “It is simply not possible, nor is it responsible to speculate on a time when citizens will be able to return. We do know that it will not be a matter of days,” she said.
More than 1,110 firefighters, 145 helicopters and 22 air tankers are fighting the fires.
Read more at NBCNews.com.