As tens of thousands of Fort McMurray residents fled the flames of an out-of-control wildfire, one evacuee came to the aid of another woman who went into labour amid all the chaos.
The woman was only in the “early stages” of labour but was “doing fantastic,” Jennifer Lenos told Global News.
FULL COVERAGE: All of Fort McMurray evacuated as wildfire intensifies
Speaking with Global National anchor Dawna Friesen, Lenos said there was a doctor and nurse at the temporary evacuation centre set up at the Noralta Lodge, 21 kilometres north of the city.
The hospital in Fort McMurray, the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre, was evacuated at 5:20 p.m. MT, when the wildfire erupted.
Lenos left her own home early on Tuesday as winds, high temperatures and low humidity caused the fire to erupt suddenly and spread to residential and industrial areas.
But the main route out of town was threatened by the fierce flames earlier in the afternoon, as the fire spread along Highway 63.
Global National correspondent Reid Fiest was on the scene as flames engulfed trees along the corridor. Fiest and a Global News crew were evacuated from live locations several times throughout the late afternoon and early evening.
As Fiest reported during Global National’s 5:30 p.m. PT (6:30 p.m. MT/8:30 p.m. ET) broadcast, several drivers along Highway 63 — to the south of where the wildfire was erupting — passed by with their vehicles packed full of their belongings.
“As the minutes go by we hear more stories, or at least people yell out the window, ‘I lost my home’ or ‘I know someone who lost their home.”
All of Fort McMurray, Alberta is now under a mandatory evacuation order, meaning some 53,000 people have been told to leave their homes — the largest evacuation effort in Alberta’s history.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley assured Fort McMurray residents emergency officials are focused on “ensuring the safety of people” and encouraged people to heed the words of police, sheriffs and other managing the evacuation efforts.
“As frustrating and as scary as it is to leave your home, it’s not as frustrating and scary as to find that you’re trapped by your home if the fire changes direction.”