A Super 8 Hotel to the south of Fort McMurray was ravaged by flames late Tuesday afternoon, among the many homes and business destroyed by an out-of-control wildfire.
The city has ordered the mandatory evacuation of some 53,000 residents as the fire raged through the city at the heart of Alberta’s oil industry.
FULL COVERAGE: All of Fort McMurray evacuated as wildfire intensifie
“This is about as bad as it gets,” Global National correspondent Reid Fiest said during a live report in view of the burning hotel. A gas station and a number of trailers in a nearby trailer park also went up in flames, Fiest added.
In the footage, flames can be seen ripping through the roof of one the hotel’s structures, just metres from Highway 63 — the main corridor running through the city.
Earlier in the afternoon, Fiest and a Global News crew were live on the air along another stretch of Highway 63 when the fire grew drastically in a matter of seconds, swallowing up trees and scorching the landscape along one side of the road. On the opposite side, embers from the blaze set a swath of grass on fire just behind the fire station.
Speaking live from the scene of the hotel fire, during Global National’s 5:30 p.m. MT broadcast, Fiest said the situation was growing more “dire.”
“When you drive by, you know why you have to get out,” Fiest said. “It’s just too risky. You need to get out.”
The mandatory evacuation order for all of Fort McMurray came down at about 6:20 p.m. MT, although some areas of the city were already under evacuation orders.
A temporary evacuation centre was set up at another hotel, the Noralta Lodge, about 21 kilometres to the north of the city. But, that temporary evacuation city was at capacity as of 5 p.m. MT.
To the south of the city, the Horizons North Black Sands Executive Lodge, which normally serves workers in the oil and gas industry, is also hosting evacuees.
Several oilsands work camps farther afield have also opened their door, while people in safer locations have taken to social media to offer places in their homes to those fleeing the fire.
READ MORE: Where to go if you’ve been evacuated