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Around 90 per cent of Fort McMurray saved from fire

Last Updated May 9, 2016 at 3:55 pm PDT

(Source: Alberta RCMP)

FORT MCMURRAY – Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says around 90 per cent of the northern Alberta city is still intact despite a devastating wildfire that invaded several neighbourhoods.

Fire Chief Darby Allen says people may be under the impression that most of the city has been levelled, but that’s just not the case.

But it could still be some time before anyone is allowed to return.

With hotspots still flaring around the city, power lines dangling, and the water still undrinkable, it will be at least two weeks before a timeline for people to come home is even established, says Notley, after touring the city.

“Basic services,” says Notley. “Gas, water, waste disposal, health care and much more need to be reestablished. Damage assessments must be completed and a re-entry plan must be completed.”

As destructive as the fire was, Notley is praising the efforts of firefighters for working around the clock to save as much of the city as they have.

“It reinforced to me how much work and how much success was achieved over the last few days by those heroic firefighters,” says Notley.

Allen says that between 40 and 50 per cent of Fort McMurray could have been destroyed if firefighters hadn’t been able to hold back the flames at key points.

Reporters are getting a blow-by-blow account from Allen as they tour the city on a bus.

Notley is also getting her first look on the ground, and has warned people to brace themselves for the images they will see.

Reporters Avery Haines and Courtney Theriault are in Fort McMurray covering the wildfires that have forced the evacuation of thousands of residents. Follow their tweets below or here on mobile.