Canadian firefighters making progress on explosive wildfire

Mother nature helps slow spread of Canadian w... 02:09

FORT MCMURRAY, Canada -- In western Canada on Monday, rain was deliverance for fire crews praying for a break.

Light showers and cooler temperatures helped slow the explosive wildfire they call "the beast."

It has already burned 620 square miles in oil country.

Cooler temperatures help firefighters battle ... 03:34

Inside Fort McMurray, burnt out homes and cars stretch for blocks. It's what's left after a devastating fire tore through town last Tuesday forcing more than 80,000 people to frantically evacuate. But from the air, it is now clear that large parts of Fort McMurray survived.

Rachel Notley, Alberta's premier, toured the town on Monday.

"The dedication and smarts of these first responders saved almost 90 percent of Fort McMurray," she said.

But there is no electricity, gas, or drinkable water which means people who have been in evacuation centers for nearly a week won't be going home anytime soon.

Christine Cook told her young daughters they are on vacation.

"I'm terrified of what the drive is going to be going back into Fort McMurray, like do I take the kids the first trip?...I mean like that's traumatizing to me I think for my kids," she said.

The fire which is still burning out of control in some places and the massive smoke screen it created has nearly shuttered Alberta's famed oil sands which account for nearly one-third of Canada's oil output.

Most of the people who work those oil jobs come from Fort McMurray, and are now without home, and work.

Having now seen Fort McMurray in person, it looks like a tornado went through. Some neighborhoods are completely destroyed, while others that look completely normal.

  • Ben Tracy
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    Ben Tracy is a CBS News senior national and environmental correspondent based in Washington, D.C.