Windsorites among 8K workers evacuated from camps north of Fort McMurray
Another emergency evacuation is underway near Fort McMurray.
This time, a fast moving wildfire north of the city forced around 8,000 oil extraction workers from plants, dozens from the Windsor area, many stranded with unanswered questions.
This evacuation of oil workers comes only days after employees returned to work.
For almost two weeks, plants were shut down and acting as evacuation centres for thousands of Fort McMurray residents.
“It was an eerie dark sky, it was glowing orange," says Windsor's Shawn Lucier."It's pretty scary."
Lucier describes the atmosphere at Suncor Energy's oil extraction plant, north of Fort McMurray.
“Gas masks were mandatory until the air quality got better," says Lucier.
Officials say at 11 p.m. Monday, 8,000 employees from plants across the area were given another mandatory evacuation order. Sending employees fleeing further north, away from the growing fires.
“We had to abandon all of our belongings there," said Lucier.
Alberta Premiere Rachel Notley confirming today there were two explosions in Fort McMurray, plus a fire broke out at Blacksands Lodge, one of the accommodation facilities for oilsands workers.
She says a number of workcamps remain at risk. To date, wildfires have spread to 355,000 hectares and they are expected to reach the Saskatchewan border before tomorrow.
Notley says changing wind conditions and higher temperatures are bringing thick, particle-filled smoke over the area and causing a health concern for anyone in the vicinity.
“Alberta's air quality health index readings are normally measured on a scale of one to 10,” she says. “Currently, in Fort McMurray, they're sitting at 38."
Windsor's Terry Joyce was also part of last night's evacuation.
"We could actually see the flames when we got on Highway 63," says Joyce. “It was huge, really tall, you could see them burning into the air."
Suncor issued a news release saying "Suncor has enhanced fire mitigation and protection around all of its facilities."