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For over a week, the Province of Alberta, Canada has experienced one of the most severe wildfires in the region's history. The ongoing fire, which started on Sunday, May 1st, has grown rapidly over the last 9 days, now consuming over 600 square miles of land.
The cause of this blaze is unknown, but experts speculate it may have been as simple as a discarded cigarette or out-of-control campfire. Hot, dry conditions only served to accelerate the disaster, and officials have stated that even a drastic change in weather may fail to extinguish it naturally at this stage.
The city of Fort McMurray was one of the hardest hit, and the fire caused more than 100,000 residents to evacuate. It's estimated that 1,600 homes and buildings have already been lost, and more damage is expected as the fire continues to burn. No deaths or injuries have been reported as a direct result of the fire, but two people have died in traffic accidents while evacuating.
Hundreds of Canadian firefighters have been bravely working around the clock to slow the blaze, using every tool in their arsenal. Nick Waddington, a captain of the Fort McMurray Fire Department, told the BBC that one of his crew members watched his house burn down just before going on to work an 18-hour shift.
Canadian troops have also been deployed to deliver emergency food and medicine to those in need. Recently, Russia has offered aid in the form of water-bomber airplanes and fire-fighting personnel. However, diplomatic tensions have caused the Canadian government to hesitate to accept this proposal.
Although the Canada wildfires have continued to grow, and may continue burning for months, the advance of the blaze has been slowed. This is thanks to hardworking firefighters, as well as cooler and more humid weather. Estimates predicted the fire would grow to over 700 square miles, but it has reached approximately 621 square miles according to recent reports.