As many of you have seen on TV or social media (or my constant re-tweets)there is a huge wildfire burning in Fort McMurray and surrounding area in Northern Alberta. It has gone from a small wild-fire to threatening the town and causing an evacuation of 88,000 people. The fire has burned on despite the tireless efforts of crews on the ground and the air. Last check it was nearly 161,000 hectares; larger than the metropolitan area of the city of Toronto. Many homes and businesses were lost. People fled and the photos and video of the traffic through dense smoke, ash and burning embers with fire close to the road side is scary. It seems so unreal like a movie or something from a nightmare. People somehow remained calm and left in an orderly fashion. The silver lining to this tragedy – no lives were lost in the fire.
Watch a video here from a dash cam. It starts with smoke then fire and ash with a sky black as night.
Heart warming stories have come out of the tragedy with people offering space in their homes, on their land for pasture animals to campers. A woman who lost her wedding dress was overwhelmed with offers. Free food, gas and supplies were given by many businesses. In the first few days people risked going back into the fire zone to save animals that got left behind. People were devastated when forced to evacuate from work with no time to return home to grab a few mementos, pack a bag and save their 4 legged family members. Then there is the outpouring of support with donations of food, clothing, necessities and money. Over $44 million has been raised in days. The support, love and caring certainly has not been lacking.
Look at what people were driving beside as they escaped their homes and city! photo by Holly Ayearst
I have never been to Fort Mac, but John has worked outside the town for years. The pictures touch your heart as you see Alberta face another natural disaster. Only 3 years ago Calgary and surrounding areas were devastated by floods. As this all comes as a part of Emergency Preparedness Week we must all stop and take pause. Are we prepared? We can’t think it will never happen to me. Think about what you would do in this situation. What if you had only 10 minutes to leave? Surely you would be panicked and not thinking clearly. Take time now to get a few things together and put it in a bag, box or tote. Hopefully you will never use it, but prepared just in case.
The satellite image of the area above. -Photo NASA -Joshua Stevens
People are in limbo as they cannot get back in and see the devastation and damage first hand. Some homes and entire neighbourhoods have been reduced to ash. Others have some damage. The unknown must be the hardest part. Not having a timeline when it is safe enough to return must be heart wrenching. The fire started a week ago and no end in sight as it continues to burn. At least the hot dry and very unseasonable temperatures have cooled off. Now we just need to pray for rain and lots of it.Everything is tinder dry after a mild winter with little snow followed by a spring with little rain.
Photo Mark Blinch
Thanks must go out to the firefighters, police and first responders, our everyday heroes. We must also say thanks for all the love support kindness and support that has spread and grown during this time of need. The numerous touching stories are endless from people offering hugs to a young boy raising money with an old school lemonade stand. If you want to donate to the Red Cross it is easy. I will add the info below. Our government has pledged to match every dollar that Red Cross raises.
Some of the first images of what was left after the wildfire ripped through Monday and Tuesday. – Photo Scott Olson
How to help:
text – in Canada by texting “REDCROSS” to 30333 you can donate $5
call – 1-800-418-1111
website – click here to go to the Red Cross website to make a donation using a credit card