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Canadian fire officials battling wildfires in Alberta warned the only thing that could stop the blaze was a lot of rain. The latest damage estimates indicate that the Fort McMurray fire could cost insurance companies around C$9 billion ($7 billion).

On Thursday, the enormous fire that had already destroyed hundreds of homes and encircled a city and several communities was picked up by 70 kilometer-per-hour (44mph) winds and spread to 85,000 hectares.

The most severe part of the roaring front moved south of Fort McMurray, with no signs of stopping. 

Over 1,110 firefighters, 145 helicopters, 138 pieces of heavy equipment, and 22 air tankers are fighting a total of 49 wildfires across Alberta, seven of which are currently considered to be out of control, according to the provincial government.

© Mark Blinch

Despite all the firefighting efforts, the blaze around Fort McMurray is expected to grow stronger.

“Let me be clear, air tankers are not going to stop this fire,” Chad Morrison, manager of Alberta’s wildfire prevention, said at a briefing on Thursday. “This is an extreme fire event. It’s going to continue to push through these dry conditions until we actually get some significant rain to help us.”

 

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