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Alberta PM staying away from Alberta for now to focus on logistics

A wildfire burns as evacuees who were stranded north of Fort McMurray, Alta., head south of Fort McMurray on Highway 63 on May 6, 2016.

CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says now is not a good time for him to visit Fort McMurray and he will go to the region in the coming weeks to express his support and "understand and share with Canadians the scale and the scope of the devastation."

"We are all aware that a prime minister showing up in Fort McMurray when firefighters are busy trying to contain a massive, raging wildfire is not a particularly helpful thing," he said.

"The best thing I can do right now is make sure that our operations centre and indeed, the lines of communication with the folks on the ground, the folks in Alberta, are as robust, as instant, and effective as possible."

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"I know that it is going to be extremely important that I get out there" he said.

Mr. Trudeau, who was in Toronto to announce federal transit funding, began with an update on the situation in Fort McMurray and answered questions on the disaster wreaking havoc on the province of Alberta.

"My office is in constant contact with Premier [Rachel] Notley's office to provide any support we can as they deal with this terrible catastrophe," he said.

More than 80,000 people have fled Fort McMurray and raging fire and shifting winds persist in the region.

The federal government has provided aid that includes air assets and 7,000 cots for evacuees in emergency shelters, with 13,000 additional cots on the way, Mr. Trudeau said.

He urged caution to evacuees and encouraged Canadians to make individual donations to the Red Cross, which will be matched by the federal government.

He described Fort McMurray as a community that has contributed a great deal to the Canadian economy for many years – and one that now requires the country's help and attention.

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