Firefighters see no end to mammoth Canada wildfire

A massive airlift is underway to save thousands of Canadians trapped by the raging Alberta wildfire
A massive airlift is underway to save thousan... 02:59

More than 1,100 firefighters continue to battle the raging Alberta wildfire, which has already consumed an estimated 1,600 buildings in and around Fort McMurray, Canada.

The Canadian government brought in reinforcements to relieve exhausted firefighters who struggled to find brief moments of rest wherever they could. When the fire suddenly changed course, even an evacuation center had to be evacuated, and people were forced to leave behind the few things they had left, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.

A wildfire in Canada is driving the largest e... 02:36

"I've got two young kids. I'm just grateful we're alive, but it really sucks to have to keep on moving," said evacuee Amber Castelli.

But with flames still spreading over the area, moving on is the only way to stay alive.

The fire burning near Fort McMurray proved just how unpredictable it can be, heading south and north, devouring everything in its path. Flames topped tree tops and tore through the city as people fled on the only two roads they had.

The city is so burned out it looks bombed out. The fire destroyed the home of Brian Jean, who's lived in the town for 50 years.

"My heart really truly goes out to people that have lost everything. I've lost everything," Jean said. "The only thing that's really important is our lives and our health. And as long as we have that, and get through it without any loss of life, I am a happy, happy person."

This is just one of 41 fires burning throughout Alberta province, 10 of which are out of control.

"Air tankers are not going to stop this fire. This fire is an extreme fire event, it's going to continue to push through these dry conditions until we actually get some significant rain to help us," said Chad Morrison, senior manager of the Alberta Fire Department.

On Thursday, officials airlifted almost 7,000 evacuees out of the area, and the airlifts will continue Friday. They also plan to drive convoys of vehicles filled with refugees-- who were stranded by the blaze -- directly through the fire zone and, it's hoped, to safety.

More than 100 aircraft are also battling the blaze. One of those air tankers slid off a runway after landing Thursday when the pilot had some sort of medical issue. Thankfully, both the pilot and co-pilot were not seriously injured.