Alberta blaze to be costliest yet - FREE

Alberta blaze to be costliest yet - FREE

BushfireA wildfire in Canada's Alberta province is expected to be one of the costliest yet, as it has already ravaged 1,600 buildings and 88,000 residents have been evacuated.

While the fire is still blazing and the total insured cost is unknown, it is expected to be several times more than the C$700m ($544m) paid out for a wildfire in Slave Lake, Alberta, in 2011, Reuters reported.

The wildfire began on May 1 and because of high winds and hot temperatures, the blaze spread rapidly, almost tripling in size, burning out much of the residential area of Fort McMurray.

To date it has burned about 18,500 acres (7,500 hectares) of land, predominantly to the south of Fort McMurray, though is now pushing north through the city, actively burning in residential areas, according to catastrophe risk modelling firm Risk Management Solutions (RMS).

The 1,600 buildings that have been torched include a hotel, a gas station, and a new school built in the city's centre.

No oil facilities are thought to be in the present path of the fire, but oil companies in the area are being compelled to cut output.

Fort McMurray is the capital of Alberta’s oil sands and gas fields region, which is the third largest reserves of oil in the world, behind Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

So far there have been no reports of deaths or injuries, but two women gave birth in one evacuation centre, Reuters reported.

The evacuation of over 88,000 residents is the largest evacuation in the province's history.

A state of emergency was declared in the province of Alberta, where the wildfire threatens to destroyed much of Fort McMurray, including threatening the city’s airport.

Over 250 firefighters are attempting to control the blaze and military aircraft have been made available to assist the operation. 

Read RMS's update on the fire, from April 30, here.

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