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Canada Wildfire Smaller Than Officials Believed

  • VOA News

Fire trucks drive toward smoke from a wildfire near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, May 8, 2016. Officials said Sunday they were hoping to get a “death grip” on the blaze amid cooler temperatures.

Fire trucks drive toward smoke from a wildfire near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, May 8, 2016. Officials said Sunday they were hoping to get a “death grip” on the blaze amid cooler temperatures.

There finally is some encouraging news about the huge wildfire that has destroyed a large area of Alberta in western Canada.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says the fires are a lot smaller than what authorities believed they were.

Notley said experts anticipated the flames would have doubled in size by Sunday, but have instead have grown much more slowly. The fires also have not crossed the border into neighboring Saskatchewan, as was feared.

Alberta fire official Chad Morrison said the much cooler weather is great for firefighting and can give firefighters the chance to put the flames in what he called "a death grip."

A plane flies low to dump fire retardant on wildfires near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, May 6, 2016.

A plane flies low to dump fire retardant on wildfires near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, May 6, 2016.

As of midday Sunday local time, 161,000 hectares in northern Alberta were still burning, and thousands of people had sought safety in emergency shelters.

The fire has wiped out nearly the entire city of Fort McMurray, forcing 88,000 people to grab what few belongings they could carry and flee for their lives.

Alberta is home to North America's largest oil sands deposits. The flames so far have not reached any major oil processing facilities.

WATCH: Related video of Canada wildfires

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