Wildfire forces state of emergency, evacuation in Fort McMurray

A wildfire near Fort McMurray, the heart of Canada’s oil sand production, has prompted evacuation orders in some communities as officials have declared a local state of emergency.

As of Sunday night, the fire west of Gregoire covered more than 120 hectares, according to officials with Alberta's Agriculture and Forestry Department.

This is the first time in 14 years that residents within city limits have been evacuated as a result of a nearby fire.

Mapping the spread of the fire, however, proved impossible on Monday morning, when operations resumed after being suspended overnight, The Edmonton Journal reports.

Forest fires in the area are common every spring, but this is the first time in 14 years that residents within city limits have been evacuated as a result of a nearby fire.

The blazes are not located near any major oil sands operations. Most operations are located on the north end. A few in-situ projects are south of Fort McMurray, closer to the aboriginal community of Conklin and near Lac La Biche, Alberta.

Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for a number of nearby communities, as the wildfire is producing poor air quality and reduced visibility.

The agency also warned that hot and dry conditions are forecast throughout the week.

Approximately 50 firefighters from the Municipality of Wood Buffalo are tackling the fire burning southwest of Fort McMurray.