A mandatory evacuation is ongoing in the city of Fort McMurray in the province of Alberta, in central Canada, prompted by an intense wildfire that began near the city Sunday afternoon and continues to spread.
The situation worsened Tuesday due to rising temperatures and low humidity, resulting in a mandatory evacuation order for multiple communities.
Whipped by winds, the blaze has grown rapidly, destroying homes in several neighborhoods. Tens of thousands of people have fled, and almost the entire city has been evacuated Tuesday, officials say.
Residents rushing from the city caused a massive traffic jam on the main road.
"It's chaos on the roads. People are panicking. It's gridlock on the roads. Flames are right next to a gas station," said Carina Van Heerde with radio station KAOS.
Fort McMurray, with a population of over 60,000, is the capital of Alberta's oil sands region.
Social media has exploded with dire images from the city, showing long lines of traffic, towers of flames and clouds of dark smoke in the sky.
Highway 63, the main road into Fort McMurray from the south, was closed after flames jumped the road.
Provincial and municipal firefighters are tackling the blaze, and no injuries have been reported. But the province has called for reinforcements, including additional firefighters and a water-dumping helicopter.