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Official: About 20 percent of Fort McMurray homes destroyed in wildfire

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Aerial view of Fort McMurray taken from a CH-146 Griffon helicopter on Thursday. David Yurdiga, a member of the Canadian House of Commons, said about 20 percent of homes in the Canadian city have been destroyed in a wildfire that forced the evacuation of more than 100,000 people. Photo by MCpl VanPutten/Canadian Armed Forces/UPI
Aerial view of Fort McMurray taken from a CH-146 Griffon helicopter on Thursday. David Yurdiga, a member of the Canadian House of Commons, said about 20 percent of homes in the Canadian city have been destroyed in a wildfire that forced the evacuation of more than 100,000 people. Photo by MCpl VanPutten/Canadian Armed Forces/UPI | License Photo

FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta, May 9 (UPI) -- About 20 percent of homes in the city of Fort McMurray, Canada, were destroyed in a devastating wildfire, a Canadian member of Parliament said.

More than 100,000 Fort McMurray residents and people in surrounding areas were forced to evacuate last week. David Yurdiga, a member of the Canadian House of Commons, told BBC News the area remains too dangerous for residents to return home.

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"An estimate: 20 percent of the homes have been burnt, but the majority of homes are standing, no damage at all," Yurdiga said. "So you know what? It's a lot better than I thought it was."

Yurdiga said it may take years for the city to return to normal. Although the wildfire was enormous, no deaths or injuries have been reported -- though two people died from traffic accidents during the mass evacuation.

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The fire is heading east toward the Saskatchewan Province. Officials warn it could be months before the fire is fully brought under control, adding that significant rainfall is necessary for it to stop spreading. The fire, which began advancing to Fort McMurray on Tuesday, is set to become the most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history.

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Several Canadian officials, including Fort McMurray Fire Chief Darby Allen and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, will tour the damaged city Monday.

"There will be some dramatic images coming from media over the next couple of days," Notley said Sunday. "I want to reiterate mental health supports are available for anyone who needs help."

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Notley said it is too dangerous for anyone who isn't a first responder to be in Fort McMurray. The fire is about 397,000 acres in size, down significantly after cooler temperatures and light rain.

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