Fort McMurray fire sweeps east through northern oilsands sites – by Marion Warnica (CBC News Edmonton – May 17, 2016)

The Fort McMurray wildfire has destroyed one of the oilsands camps north of the city and is roaring eastward toward others in its path.

The fire destroyed all 665 units at Blacksand Executive Lodge, which provided temporary housing for workers in nearby oil facilities, on Tuesday morning. By Tuesday afternoon, flames were at the edges of the Noralta Lodge camp, just a few kilometres east of Blacksand.

CBC News also obtained photos of flames at the edges of an AFD Petroleum facility, about five kilometres northwest of Noralta. Officials said the fire was expected to move east on Tuesday and would likely jump Highway 63 south of Noralta Lodge.¬†Businesses in the area have been alerted. “We have an evacuation plan and we’re ready to use it,” said Dave Harman, a director for the Northlands Sawmill.

On Tuesday afternoon, he and a small team of colleagues were preparing the sawmill site for the fire. They had started bulldozing trees and brush to make wide fire breaks just days after the first fires hit Fort McMurray. Harman said they have now brought in a water cannon and 70 sprinklers.

An official told him the flames were one kilometre west of the facility, which is located about halfway between the northern edge of Fort McMurray and the Noralta Lodge site.

Satellite view

The mass of flames some have come to call “the beast” is not a single fire, but rather several fires surrounding and within the town of Fort McMurray.

NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite collected images of what its office called “the myriad of fires in the Fort McMurray complex” on May 16.

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