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Fort McMurray wildfire: a closer look at the community under fire threat

WATCH ABOVE: Ongoing video coverage of the Fort McMurray wildfire.

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. – A look at Fort McMurray, the northern Alberta community in which several neighbourhoods were under an evacuation notice Tuesday because of a wildfire.

Location

Fort McMurray is 435 kilometres northeast of Edmonton on Highway 63, just west of the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary.

READ MORE: Several communities evacuated as fire situation in Fort McMurray intensifies

Size

Fort McMurray is the largest community in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. A 2015 municipal census pegged the population of the region at about 125,000. The urban centre of Fort McMurray had just over 61,000 people, according to the 2011 federal census.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire: Residents take to social media as situation intensifies

Access

Highway 63 is the major route to the Wood Buffalo region. The fire, which started Sunday, jumped the highway Tuesday.

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READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire: Politicians, athletes react to emergency on social media

History

Fort McMurray was once a fur trading post.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire: Flames erupt along Highway 63 during live Global News broadcast

Today

Fort McMurray is best known now as a hub for the oilsands industry, which is the top employer in the region. The industry has been hit hard by the downturn in the energy sector.

Trees burn near a road in Fort McMurray, Alberta on Tuesday May 3, 2016 in this image provide by radio station CAOS91.1. At least half of the city of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta was under an evacuation notice Tuesday as a wildfire whipped by winds engulfed homes and sent ash raining down on residents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-CAOS91.1(KAOS)
Trees burn near a road in Fort McMurray, Alberta on Tuesday May 3, 2016 in this image provide by radio station CAOS91.1. At least half of the city of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta was under an evacuation notice Tuesday as a wildfire whipped by winds engulfed homes and sent ash raining down on residents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-CAOS91.1(KAOS)
Fort McMurray wildfire at Highway 63 Tuesday, May 3, 2016.
Fort McMurray wildfire at Highway 63 Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Dean Twardzik, Global News
Fort McMurray wildfire Tuesday, May 3, 2016.
Fort McMurray wildfire Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Dean Twardzik, Global News
Fort McMurray wildfire Tuesday, May 3, 2016.
Fort McMurray wildfire Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Dean Twardzik, Global News
Fort McMurray wildfire Tuesday, May 3, 2016.
Fort McMurray wildfire Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Dean Twardzik, Global News
Highway 63 at Confederation Way facing west Tuesday, May 3, 2016 at around 5 p.m. MT.
Highway 63 at Confederation Way facing west Tuesday, May 3, 2016 at around 5 p.m. MT. Credit, Alberta government traffic camera
Fire consumes an RV park in Fort McMurray, AB.
Fire consumes an RV park in Fort McMurray, AB. Jame Babcock
CJ Varney posted this picture of the Fort McMurray fire approaching the Shell gas station 3:35PM May 3.
CJ Varney posted this picture of the Fort McMurray fire approaching the Shell gas station 3:35PM May 3. CJ Varney / Twitter
Peter Fortna says that as of 3:30PM on May 3 the Fort McMurray fire is meters from the Waterways overpass.
Peter Fortna says that as of 3:30PM on May 3 the Fort McMurray fire is meters from the Waterways overpass. Peter Fortna / Twitter
Trevor Norris (@TNorrisYEG on Twitter) posted this photo from Fort McMurray on May 3, 2016 at 3:30PM. Norris says that traffic isn't moving at all.
Trevor Norris (@TNorrisYEG on Twitter) posted this photo from Fort McMurray on May 3, 2016 at 3:30PM. Norris says that traffic isn't moving at all. Trevor Norris / Twitter
Cody McNernie (@CodyMcNernie on Twitter) posted this photo from Fort McMurray on May 3, 2016 at 3:15PM.
Cody McNernie (@CodyMcNernie on Twitter) posted this photo from Fort McMurray on May 3, 2016 at 3:15PM. Cody McNernie / Twitter
A wildfire in Fort McMurray intensified Tuesday, May 3, 2016.
A wildfire in Fort McMurray intensified Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Reid Fiest, Global News
Fort McMurray wildfire flares up Tuesday, May 3, 2016.
Fort McMurray wildfire flares up Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Fletcher Kent, Global News
The Fort McMurray wildfire flared up just before 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, 2016, leading to more voluntary evacuation notices being issued.
The Fort McMurray wildfire flared up just before 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, 2016, leading to more voluntary evacuation notices being issued. Dean Twardzik, Global News
The Fort McMurray wildfire flared up just before 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, 2016, leading to more voluntary evacuation notices being issued.
The Fort McMurray wildfire flared up just before 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, 2016, leading to more voluntary evacuation notices being issued. Dean Twardzik, Global News
The Fort McMurray wildfire flared up just before 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, 2016, leading to more voluntary evacuation notices being issued.
The Fort McMurray wildfire flared up just before 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, 2016, leading to more voluntary evacuation notices being issued. Dean Twardzik, Global News
The Fort McMurray wildfire flared up just before 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, 2016, leading to more voluntary evacuation notices being issued.
The Fort McMurray wildfire flared up just before 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, 2016, leading to more voluntary evacuation notices being issued. Dean Twardzik, Global News
The fire in Fort McMurray early Tuesday afternoon, May 3, 2016.
The fire in Fort McMurray early Tuesday afternoon, May 3, 2016. Dean Twardzik, Global News
Fort McMurray wildfire from the Prairie Creek Trailer Park Tuesday, May 3, 2016.
Fort McMurray wildfire from the Prairie Creek Trailer Park Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Cam Cook, Global News
Fort McMurray wildfire from the Prairie Creek Trailer Park Tuesday, May 3, 2016.
Fort McMurray wildfire from the Prairie Creek Trailer Park Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Cam Cook, Global News