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‘Unpredictable, dangerous’ Fort McMurray fire speculated to get doubled in size

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Alta: The fire situation in the Fort McMurray, Alta., area remains “unpredictable and dangerous” said Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale

Goodale added “Firefighters from other provinces are being brought in to spell off those who have been battling what he calls ‘this beast of a fire’ for a week.”

Speaking at a news conference in Regina on Saturday morning, Goodale also said the convoy moving people who have been taking shelter at oilsands work camps north of Fort McMurray would continue.

He said about 7,500 people were moved through Fort McMurray to the south on Friday and it is expected that the same number will be moved out of harms way on Saturday.

Fire officials predict the area destroyed and being burned by the sprawling fire could double this weekend.

On Friday, shifting winds appeared to help move the growth of the inferno into a forested area away from the city, and Goodale says the forecast continues to call for dry and windy conditions.

Officials have stressed the wildfire that forced 80,000 people from their homes remained out of control and was likely to burn for weeks.

“The city of Fort McMurray is not safe to return to, and this will be true for a significant period of time,” said Premier Rachel Notley.

In all, more than 20,000 displaced residents had been living in oilsands work camps since Tuesday after the blaze cut the main road through Fort McMurray and sent residents fleeing either north or south.

Those who managed to escape south settled in hotels, campgrounds, with friends or at temporary reception centres. About 1,800 were being housed at the Northlands Expo Centre in Edmonton. Others went to Calgary.

The government of Alberta would be giving the victims $1,250 for each adult –$500 for dependents – to cover their immediate needs while the Red Cross reported donations for victim relief have crossed the $30 million threshold. The federal government has promised to match those funds.

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