More than 1,100 firefighters are battling 49 separate blazes across the province -- seven of them totally out of control.
The fires have engulfed 85,000 hectares (210,000 acres) of forest including 12,000 in the area surrounding Fort McMurray, now the epicenter of the inferno, where 2,000 homes have been destroyed.
Television footage from the center of the disaster zone showed trees ablaze on the edge of highways crowded with bumper-to-bumper traffic trying to leave as billowing black smoke darkened the sky. Bright orange embers whizzed through the air and floated down onto cars.
"The footage we've seen, the cars racing down highways while fire rages on all sides, is nothing short of terrifying," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told lawmakers in Ottawa.
The Alberta government has sent a tanker under guard to help rescue vehicles stranded south of Fort McMurray, with three mobile fuel stations set up along a 200 kilometer stretch of road.
Thousands of evacuees thronged the tiny hamlet of Lac La Biche, about 300 kilometers south of Fort McMurray, after making a chaotic escape.
"There's no guide on how to get out of a forest fire," evacuee Alan Javierto told AFP, recounting a hurried, frightening evacuation as homes and businesses were reduced to cinders.
The flight from Fort McMurray began in earnest shortly before midnight Tuesday after a mandatory evacuation order.
Late Wednesday, fires forced the evacuation of Saprae Creek, a neighborhood east of the city's airport where even firefighters had to pull out.
As strong northwesterly winds whipped up the flames, three more communities to the south were evacuated, including Anzac, with police going door-to-door to make sure no residents were left behind.
Oil companies crucial to the region such as Suncor, Syncrude and Shell have pulled out non-essential employees, and set up emergency shelters in their huge bungalow worker communities.
All three major firms have slashed their output -- with Suncor shutting down its main production site north of Fort McMurray, and Shell Canada stopping production at its Albian site, with an output of 255,000 barrels per day.
Alberta has been left bone-dry after a period of unusually scant rainfall and unseasonably high temperatures.
Lawmaker Rona Ambrose, who represents the affected region, wept as she vowed in parliament that it would recover from the disaster.
"Fort McMurray is a place where Canadians have come from all across this country. It's a tough day for Albertans but we will persevere" she said through tears.
However, Notley said the tens of thousands evacuated from the city face a long wait to return home.
"I must be very, very direct about this," she said. "It is apparent that the damage to the community in Fort McMurray is extensive, and the city is not safe for residents at this time."
"I understand that the Albertans are scared, tired, and worried about their homes and what the future holds for themselves and their families," she added.
Full article http://www.firstpost.com/world/canada-forest-fire-thousands-airlifted-to-safety-emergency-declared-in-alberta-2767570.html
In situations like this*, people should be screaming at their governments to use the technology they pretend doesn't exist. No need to rely on puny helicopters and fire trucks. It is well within the US military's capability to fix a weather 'problem' like this, yet those in power are more interested in the technology's offensive capabilities against other nations or dissident regions at home, see hurricane Katrina.
* I'm aware that forest fires are a good and natural part of the forest's life cycle.