Alberta wildfire out of control: 1,370 square miles torched, and counting

CNN  — 

The mammoth inferno devastating northern Alberta has now destroyed more than 877,000 acres – more than four times the size of New York City.

By the numbers

877,000: Acres scorched1,370: Square miles burned4.5: Times that New York City could fit in the area1,754: Firefighters 208: Helicopters0%: Amount of the blaze contained

Well over 1,700 firefighters are trying to get a grip on the blaze, which started May 1 near Fort McMurray.

But as of Wednesday, the fire is still 0% contained, the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry department said.

Even worse: The blaze is marching east toward Saskatchewan and will likely reach the province Wednesday, Alberta wildfire official Chad Morrison said.

Also near the path: major oil sands used to process bitumen, CNN partner CBC reported.

The inferno could actually burn through the winter and into next year, University of Alberta wildfire professor MIke Flannigan said.

Gas explosions scorch homes

A pair of gas explosions damaged 10 homes in the Fort McMurray area this week. Firefighters quickly extinguished those flames, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said.

Some of Fort McMurray’s 61,000 residents will be able to start returning to their homes in the least damaged areas as early as June 1, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley told reporters.

The voluntary return is contingent on a number of conditions, including that the wildfire is no longer an imminent threat and essential services are restored. Officials had ordered the entire city to evacuate. And many residents have no idea if their homes are still standing.

“If my house is standing, then there’s rooms for others who maybe aren’t so fortunate,” Fort McMurray evacuee Melissa Gallant said. “If my house is gone, I need to know that, too.”

About 10% of the city has been destroyed, including at least 2,400 structures, Notley’s office said.

What evacuees took with them

Of the structures inspected, 89% of are deemed safe, and 1% need more inspection.

Syrian refugees in Canada help people fleeing fire

Gallant said she wanted to spare her children, ages 7 and 12, the trauma of seeing their hometown of Fort McMurray charred.

“I want my kids to come back to normalcy,” Gallant said. “Not ground zero.”

Fort McMurray fire: Before and after

CNN’s Dan Simon contributed to this report.