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MAY 5 UPDATES: Province flying out 8,000 northern evacuees

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
MAY 5 UPDATES: Province flying out 8,000 northern evacuees

Fire glows on the north shores of Gregoire Lake on May 4, 2016 // CTV/Sean Amato

UPDATE2 (11:44AM)

Crews are working on Highway 63 to allow traffic through. There’s no word yet on a timeline but Premier Rachel Notley says they are looking at getting fuel to the north to allow people to fuel up for a trip south.

Crews are working at maintaining critical infrastructure: water treatment plant, bridge, government offices.

Water and flame retardant dropped extensively on timberlea and Thickwood to protect neighbourhoods.

Notley says the assessment of costs will come later as focus now is on protection.

Fire now covers 850 square kilometres or 85, 000 hectares.

8,000 expected to fly out from camps today and hopefully, 12,000 will be able to drive out.

Although the situation is stable in the north, officials would prefer to see everyone sent south where there are more resources.

Tankers and crews mostly working to protect properties, not fight fire.

Fire is expected to grow over the next few days. Extreme fire behavior expected to continue, but winds are pushing the fire to south-east, away from Fort McMurray.

No specific timeline for residents to return.

UPDATE 1 (9:30 a.m.)

A quick exit from Anzac on Wednesday evening has left the status of the hamlet an unknown.

The RMWB provided damage updates this morning, saying they are unable to provide damage estimates for both Anzac and Saprae Creek due to the advance of the wildfire.

Significant damage was also reported along Prospect Drive, where fire was first reported at 2:06 a.m. The municipality says it did manage to prevent the blaze from crossing Confederation Way, preserving Eagle Ridge.

North Abasand is currently on fire, threatening the local radio and cell tower. Serious damage was also reported to structures along old Airport Road. While the fire did affect Fire Hall No. 5, no significant damage was done to the structure.

There is no word on the status of Gregoire either, though no damage has been reported at the new airport, in downtown or Thickwood.

Evacuees north of town are being asked to stay where they are, as Highway 63 continues to be closed through Fort McMurray.

Over 1,400 people were lined up at an airstrip near Fort Hills Thursday morning waiting for a flight to either Calgary or Edmonton.

We will bring you more on this story as details become available…

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