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Canadian officials fear a massive wildfire could double in size by the end of Saturday as they continue to evacuate residents of fire-ravaged Fort McMurray from work camps north of Alberta’s oil sands city. Thousands more displaced residents will get a sobering drive-by view of their burned out city as convoys continue to head south Saturday. Police and military will oversee another procession of hundreds of vehicles, and the mass airlift of evacuees will also resume, the AP reports. Around 25,000 of the city’s 80,000 people headed north when the mandatory evacuation order was issued Tuesday, but officials are now moving everyone south where it is safer and they can get better support services.
The Alberta provincial government, which has declared a state of emergency, said Friday the size of the blaze had grown to 249,571 acres, or about 386 square miles. Chad Morrison, Alberta’s manager of wildfire prevention, says there is a “high potential that the fire could double in size” by the end of Saturday. He expects the fire to expand into a more remote forested area northeast and away from Fort McMurray. Extremely dry conditions, hot temperatures, and strong winds are expected Saturday, he says. Morrison says no amount of resources would put this fire out, and what is needed is rain. “We have not seen rain in this area for the last two months of significance,” he says. “This fire will continue to burn for a very long time until we see some significant rain.”