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Alberta Premier: Most of Fort McMurray Spared From Wildfire

  • VOA News

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley speaks to members of the media at a fire station in Fort McMurray, Alberta, May 9, 2016. (Rachel La Corte/The Canadian Press)

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley speaks to members of the media at a fire station in Fort McMurray, Alberta, May 9, 2016. (Rachel La Corte/The Canadian Press)

The premier of Canada's Alberta province, Rachel Notley, says 90 percent of the city of Fort McMurray was spared from the massive wildfires burning out of control.

Notley and other officials had believed nearly the entire town had been burned to the ground. But an aerial tour of the city Monday showed that while some neighborhoods were wiped out, most of the city was untouched.

"The city was surrounded by an ocean of fire only a few days ago, but Fort McMurray and the surrounding communities have been saved and they will be rebuilt," Notley said.

She gratefully credited firefighters and their quick action for saving the city, which has no electricity or running water. She said it will be at least another two weeks before authorities can start putting together a schedule for people to return home.

Destroyed property is seen in Fort McMurray, Alberta, May 9, 2016. (Rachel La Corte/The Canadian Press)

Destroyed property is seen in Fort McMurray, Alberta, May 9, 2016. (Rachel La Corte/The Canadian Press)

Officials said the wildfires were still burning out of control Monday, but cooler weather and rain have helped firefighters get a better grip on the flames.

The fires have destroyed 160,000 hectares in Alberta, home to the world's third-largest oil reserves, behind Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

While the flames so far have not reached any major oil processing facilities, they were still shut down Monday, causing global oil prices to climb.

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