Via CBC News: Fort McMurray convoys begin as evacuees roll through fire-ravaged city. Click or tap through for the full report, related stories, and videos. For frequent updates, follow #ymmfire. Excerpt:
Not long after dawn, the first convoy began to roll, a long parade of cars and trucks stretched along Highway 63, rolling south toward Fort McMurray, escorted by RCMP cruisers.
For hundreds of evacuees — thousands by day's end — it will be a grim, sad and surreal journey, as they drive through the burned city they fled just 72 hours ago.
After three days stranded in oilsands work camps north of the city, thousands of families were expected be escorted south through their fire-ravaged community.
From there, many will make their way on to Edmonton or Calgary, to be housed in evacuation centres or with family or friends.
Those in the convoys will be the first residents to see the carnage created by the terrifying wildfire that tore into town Tuesday, raining embers and consuming neighbourhoods and, at times, seeming to threaten the entire community.
RCMP cruisers will escort groups of 50 vehicles at a time. Helicopters will watch from overhead. All intersections along the route will be controlled and blocked by police, to ensure no vehicles try to slip away from the convoy.
Police say that if weather, fire and road conditions remain favourable, all of the estimated 1,500 vehicles will be moved through and out of the city Friday.
The fire, which continues to burn out of control, had scorched through more than 100,000 hectares by Friday morning.