Saskatoon

'Scene from Independence Day': Sask. man describes fires in Fort McMurray

Saskatoon's Spencer Davis was in a work truck with a few of his colleagues driving south towards Fort McMurray, Alta., when he encountered a wall of traffic.

Spencer Davis tried to drive into the city as wildfires forced an evacuation

In this photograph from May 3, 2016, flames build along Highway 63 as thousands of Fort McMurray residents fled during the city-wide evacuation. (Terry Reith/CBC)

It really was a scene out of a Hollywood movie for Saskatoon's Spencer Davis.

Davis works at a geotechnical drilling camp in the tailings ponds north of Fort McMurray, Alta. He was in a work truck with a few of his colleagues driving south towards the city when he encountered a wall of traffic.

We are just sitting tight and waiting for the word that we can get back to town, I guess, and get all our stuff.- Spencer Davis, geotechnical worker.

"I described it as the scene from Independence Day when Jeff Goldblum is driving to Washington and everyone is leaving and he's the only one going there," Davis said on Tuesday night.

All four lanes of traffic were open to evacuees fleeing north from the wildfires that were raging through city neighbourhoods. Davis was forced to drive south, against the flow of traffic, in the ditch until he reached a turn-off.

Davis is staying at a hotel north of Fort McMurray for now, but he hopes it won't be permanent.

"We are just sitting tight and waiting for the word that we can get back to town, I guess, and get all our stuff. Everyone came straight from (worksites) tonight and is stuck in the clothes they have on until they can get back to town."

Davis could see the smoke from the wildfires for the past two days, but was surprised at how quickly it spread. He said things are chaotic right now as people flee the flames.

"I don't know where everyone was headed. There's a bunch of camps and sites further north, and I'm not quite sure where everyone's hoping to rest their head or camp tonight."

About the Author

Eric Anderson

Freelance writer

Eric Anderson is the communications leader for Sherbrooke Community Centre in Saskatoon and creator of the podcast YXE Underground. He spent nearly eight years with CBC Saskatchewan.

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