Wildfire tore through Northern Alberta over the long weekend, taking with it a number of homes, and forcing some residents to leave theirs behind.
Residents in the community of Newbrook, about 100 kilometres north of Edmonton, were asked by RCMP to evacuate on Friday, after flames crept closer to the townsite.
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“When you think that everything might be gone, it’s scary,” said Eileen Wientzel, who decided to take heed of the warning and leave town, taking family photos and irreplaceable items with her.
“When I got to Skeleton Lake to see my family, I realized they’re what matters. Material things are just things.”
Dry conditions coupled with high winds over the weekend also created a recipe for disaster in other communities. The town of Bruderheim lost five homes after a 40 km-wide blaze began Thursday afternoon.
Bruderheim fire Chief Bob Cote said that the fire was under control yesterday afternoon.
“It was really intense for a time because of the high winds,” Cote said, adding that the streets in the village of 1,500 people were filled with smoke on Thursday. “It was eerie, because it was coming our way, but we set up defences that made sure it didn’t get farther than it did.
Some outside help came in from our western neighbours over the weekend, as 68 forest firefighters were sent in to battle a number of infernos that were sparked across Alberta, five of which were listed as “out of control.”
Sustainable resources development wildlife officer Rob Harris said that his department, which primarily fights forest fires, sent out 50 firefighters, two helicopters, and water bombers to Newbrook to help extinguish the flames.
“They flew pretty low, it was something to see,” said Newbrook General Store owner Daryl Wolan yesterday. “But more than anything, we desperately need rain.”