On May 21st the world was predicted to end…it didn’t…but for many in the town of Slave Lake, Alberta, Armageddon happened on May 16th. According to a news report by CBC Canada nearly 40 % of the town was wiped out by fire with high winds and low humidity hampering the fire fighting efforts. Over 7000 residents of the town were evacuated and thankfully because of the evacuation, only one fatality has been attributed to the fire.
Alberta, despite having snow on the ground most of the year, still has tinder-dry conditions once the snow melts and every year wild fires are a constant battle throughout the summer months. Many fires are started by lightening strikes but the majority of fires are started by people. Despite repeated warnings and heavy fines if caught, smokers throw cigarette butts out their car windows. Campers do not extinguish campfires properly. Although there is still not an official cause to the Slave Lake fire, a recent news report suspects it was human carelessness.
I remember fighting a grass fire that was caused by someone throwing a cigarette out the window of a car. The fire traveled up the hill towards our home. Within minutes of seeing smoke, neighbours and volunteer firefighters were attacking the flames by using garden hoses, shovels and even stomping on the flames with their boots. We knew if the fire “jumped” the road, our home as well as our neighbour’s would be gone. Still the fire blazed with amazing speed towards the farm house across from us and every able-bodied person was out to save it. With a community effort we managed to have the fire under control only centimetres from the farm house’s wooden fence surrounding the yard. A few planks were blackened but the yard and house were spared.
I remember how thankful I was for my neighbours and the way they all pulled together for a common purpose. I had never really met some of my neighbours until that day, yet in a crisis they were there. This past week, countless people have banded together raising money and distributing clothes and food to the victims of the Slave Lake fire. Firefighters from across our nation have flown in to help knock down the fire, one helicopter pilot giving his life in the firefighting effort.
Here are a couple of links to two organizations who are helping the victims of the Slave Lake fire. Give if you can give, financially or otherwise. Pray for the families who have lost so much.