A massive wildfire raging in the Canadian province of Alberta grew to 200,000 hectares. More than 80,000 people have emptied Fort McMurray in the heart of Canada’s oil sands, authorities said. Firefighters started to realize the uniquely destructive nature of the Fort McMurray wildfire when they saw aspen poplar trees instantaneously and loudly explode into fire. The aspen does not readily burn, not with its green leaves and thick twigs. But in the hottest of fires, gases are released in the combustion process so it’s possible for a tree to heat up, ignite and catch fire all at once, as if it had exploded.
More than 1,100 firefighters, 145 helicopters and 22 air tankers are helping fight the fires, but with fire is burning at more than 10,000 kilowatts per metre, aircraft water bombing is no longer effective.
The weather phenomenon has caused much drier conditions than normal, leading to a massive increase in the number of fires in the province. Alberta has had 330 wildfires already this year, more than double the recent annual average.