WOODBURY - A Long Island rabbi has a personal connection to an area in Canada where a raging wildfire has burned hundreds of thousands of acres.
Walls of flames driven by strong, shifting winds raged out of control in and around the city of Fort McMurray, Alberta. Firefighters were helpless to stop the destruction. By Thursday night, the wildfire grew to more than 210,000 acres in size and forced at least 88,000 residents from their homes.
The disaster is personal for Rabbi Irwin Huberman, of Glen Cove, as he lived in Fort McMurray for 15 years and still has friends there.
"It's heartbreaking to see the places where we have friends, and we know that they have no homes anymore, and they're displaced," the rabbi says.
The fire has torched at least 1,600 homes and other buildings in Fort McMurray, which is the main center of Canada's oil sands region.
Huberman is giving moral support to his Fort McMurray friends through emails and phone calls. He's also offering financial support and encourages others to do the same.
Huberman says the federal and provincial governments of Canada and Alberta have agreed to match any donation to the Canadian Red Cross for the fire victims.