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 Cars stream out of Fort McMurray, fleeing the wild fire. (Photo: Canadian Press)

Tar Sands Boomtown Blaze Still 'Burning Out of Control'

Officials estimate that the devastating Fort McMurray fire will have doubled in size by Sunday's end

Lauren McCauley

The Alberta wildfire that has been dubbed The Beast and described as a post-apocalyptic nightmare is still burning "out of control,"  according to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who gave a briefing Saturday afternoon in Edmonton.

"In no way is this fire under control," she reiterated.

Fire officials said Sunday that the fire will soon reach neighboring province Saskatchewan as the blaze is expected to double in size over the course of the weekend due to the high temperatures and gusting winds, growing to an estimated 3,000 square kilometers.

According to reports, "the forecast for Sunday is a mix of sun and cloud, with a few showers expected Sunday night, ending overnight. Wind from the west will range in speeds from 30 km/h to 50 km/h, and the temperature is expected to reach a high of 17 C." 

Chad Morrison with Alberta Wildfires said during a late Saturday briefing that "Unless we have a significant rain event of 100 millimetres of rain, we expect to be out fighting the fire in the forested area for months to come."

More than 1,600 structures have burned in Fort McMurray and over 80,000 people have been evacuated from the tar sands boom town where the fire began a week ago.

On Friday, under police escort, thousands of people previously trapped by the flames traveled in a convoy of 1,500 cars through the heart of the fire south to salvation.

Residents described what they saw as a "war zone" and an "atrocity."

"I hadn’t cried until I got there and then saw what I drive by every day going to Walmart or whatever. It was so green and so full, and then to just be gone," said Jennifer Gonyou. Her husband, Melvin, said the smoke was a blessing: "You’re almost thankful that there was so much smoke in the area so you couldn’t see everything."

The province remains in a state of emergency.

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