US & Canada

Canada wildfires: Justin Trudeau visits Fort McMurray

Justin Trudeau surveys the damage in Fort McMurray Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Trudeau is surveying the damage in Fort McMurray

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is visiting fire-ravaged Fort McMurray for the first time since the flames forced the entire town to evacuate.

The raging wildfire, which began about two weeks ago, pushed more than 88,000 people out of their homes in Canada's oil sands capital.

Mr Trudeau will assess the damage and meet Alberta premier Rachel Notley and emergency workers.

The fire, which has moved away from the city, destroyed 2,432 structures.

It is now 930 square miles (2,410 square kilometres) and is expected to burn for a few more weeks.

Officials have said they are making a plan within two weeks to get residents back into their homes, but fire conditions are supposed to worsen in the coming days.


At the scene - Rajini Vaidyanathan, BBC News, Fort McMurray

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Media captionIn some areas of Fort McMurray, houses have been reduced to nothing but ash.

While the worst is over, powerful wildfires continue to burn - one is still out of control.

Prime Minister Trudeau will visit some of these areas today, before meeting families who were forced to flee their homes here.

Thousands continue to live in temporary shelters, with no possessions, as they wait to hear when they can go home.

Mr Trudeau's visit follows criticism for the way he's handled the country's costliest natural disaster, with many arguing that as prime minister he should have come here sooner.


Mr Trudeau's government has enacted a cabinet committee for Fort McMurray aid and reconstruction efforts.

The fire shut down oil sands firms in the province which are just starting to re-open.

Evacuees are receiving financial help from the Alberta government and the Canadian Red Cross.

Rachel Notley, touring the town, said the devastation was "quite overwhelming" but that the city would be made safe again.

Ninety percent of buildings in the city survived the fire, she said.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Trudeau has joined Alberta premier Rachel Notley
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Trudeau is visitng the fire-ravaged town for the first time since the flames broke out

"It was a miracle we got the entire population out safely," she said.

No one was killed in the fire but two people died in a car crash when they were leaving the city.

The fire is expected to be the most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history.


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Media captionFort McMurray Fire Captain Adam Bugden: "I've met more heroes in this experience than I ever thought existed"
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Media captionThe BBC's Laura Bicker tours Fort McMurray

Fort McMurray wildires - in-depth

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