Wildfire destroys half of town of 9,800
A building in Slave Lake, Alberta, burns Sunday. A wildfire has destroyed at least half the town of 9,800, according to media reports.
May 16th, 2011
12:20 PM ET

Wildfire destroys half of town of 9,800

An out-of-control wildfire has burned at least half of a Canadian town of 9,800, forcing its residents to flee in a slow-moving convoy on the only highway out of town.

Hundreds of buildings in the northern Alberta town of Slave Lake have been destroyed, including the town hall and police station, CNN affiliate CTV reported. No injuries have been reported.

“It’s extremely devastating, our loss. It’s difficult to articulate,” Slave Lake Mayor Karina Pillay-Kinnee told the Globe and Mail late Sunday.

The wildfire started east of the town, then split into two and encircled the town, Rob Harris, a fire information officer with Sustainable Resource Development, told the Edmonton Journal.

Winds up to 100 kph (62 mph) fanned the flames, according to the news reports.

"It's horrible; it's just going to spread because houses are 10 feet apart," Myrna Franklin said in a CTV report. "Our house is out of town, I don't know if it's gone yet or not."

“The smoke is terrifying, black and just billowing. I called everyone I could get a hold if and asked them to leave if they hadn't already,” Slave Lake resident Cindy Martin, 27, said in an e-mail quoted by the Globe and Mail. “I'm very much in panic. At this point even if our home is OK, there will not be much of the community to go back to. Who even knows if we will have a job to go back to? Our entire lives were in Slave and now it will never be the same and the fire doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon.”

About 200 firefighters were battling the Slave Lake flames, according to the news reports, and more were being dispatched.

But fires are stretching resources in the province. At least 84 wildfires are burning in Alberta, with 29 of those out of control, according to the Edmonton Journal report.

Slave Lake is 250 kilometers (155 miles) northwest of the provincial capital of Edmonton, with a population of 9,851, according to the town's website. Oil and gas and timber are the area's major industries.

[cnn-video url="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2011/05/16/vo.can.wildfire.burns.ctv"%5D
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Filed under: Canada • Fire • Natural Disasters
soundoff (148 Responses)
  1. Linari

    Easy, there, candy. Are you trying to say that the natives keeping slaves (contrary to what other Canadians have said) is any better that black slavery? Slavery is slavery. It matters not what color they are.
    You sound just as ignorant as the people you are trying to insult.
    Please be quiet.
    You sound foolish.

    May 16, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • FooseF150

      Read Candy's comment and don't misunderstand it...all Candy was saying was that American's shouldn't think the name of Slave Lake had anything to do with American history of slaves...because there are so many American's commenting on the name of our Albertan town.

      May 16, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • tokyo joe

      I wonder if the Canadian pilots were involved in the killing of Libyans?

      May 16, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. A Proud Canuck

    Cool it, Yankees. We don't have a history of slavery in this country. Slave Lake derives its name from the Slave or Dogrib Indians who used to live along its shores.

    May 16, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bernie

      We do have a history, only our slaves were treated in most cases different from the US slaves. And we didn't have as many slaves as where in the US. Canada and slaves is not something that is talked about much.

      May 16, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Asbestos

    @Bernie. Asbestos comes from Canada. Eat your words.

    May 16, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bernie

      Asbestos: What?? I have no idea what you are trying to say.

      May 16, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Alan

    The Canadian Red Cross is accepting donations to assist the people of Slave Lake, AB and surrounding communities. These folks had to flee or die as a result of the wildfire that engulfed their town.


    May 16, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      specific link is: http://www.redcross.ca/article.asp?id=39285&tid=001

      May 16, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MbarH

    Wildfires are common in alberta, global warming has nothing to do with it, anyone saying that they shoulda seen this coming obviously hasnt stood outside for 15 minutes in alberta, we get very high winds here 100km/h is pretty common, and they can change direction before anyone even knows it, we can get a wind from all 4 directions at the same time it seems some days, Ive seen and heard of many grass fires that happened to be started by some idiot throwing a cigarette butt out the window, ive seen fires jump highways, seen fires creep underground, seen fires last for months burning underground.. blame it on the wind and the idiots.

    May 16, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • KatyJane

      Gee you mean like the winds that fuel the grass fires in the Hollywood and Malibou hills and through out the rest of the state of California?

      Fires happen, weather conditions (wind, dry spring grass before the grass starting growing again – remember this is Canada and we have a shorter growering season then those further south in North America) happen. The miralce here is that no one has been reported as injured. There is something to be grateful about.

      May 17, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Asbestos

    Asbestos killed millions of Americans, who purchased most of it from Canada. (@Bernie) And were there black slave masters in Canada? In 1830s S. Carolina, over 25% of the free black slave masters owned at least 10 slaves. (roughly 10 times the national average) Did black people own slaves in Canada too?

    May 16, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Asbestos

    It was in response to your "leave your crap inside your borders" comment. Asbestos is Canuck all the way.

    May 16, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Shardy charchter

    Half the town of 9,800. That would be roughly 4K (R)-wise.

    May 16, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cricket

    It might be easier to read candy's statement if she didn't call people names. One doesn't need to, you know, to get the point across.

    May 16, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SlaveLakeCitizen

    I'm from slave lake&this is so heart breaking. What does this fire have to do with slaves?

    May 16, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • john - Red Deer

      I agree 100%. What's wrong with those people??

      May 17, 2011 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  11. stewie

    Yes asbestos has been linked to mesothylioma, but if the asbestos in the twin towers had not been removed the towers may have never fallen. They certainly would not have fallen as quickly as they did and many more people would have gotten out as a result. there is nothing more fire proof than asbestos, it's just a matter of whether to make the trade off of safer buildings or not. But who knows, thirty years down the road we may discover that the replacement for asbestos causes some other form of cancer.

    May 16, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. AlbertaCanadaGuy

    Just to make things clear!! There was confusion over the name 'Slave'.

    The Slavey (also Slave) are a First Nations aboriginal people of the Dene group, indigenous to the Great Slave Lake region, in Canada's Northwest Territories, and extending into northeastern British Columbia and northwestern Alberta.

    The name "Slave" is an English translation of the Cree name for their traditional enemies, including the people now known as the Slavey, whom they often enslaved; the French Esclave is analogous. However, in order to avoid the connotations of the word slave, the name came to be presented as indigenous, and this was indicated by pronouncing the e. Later the spelling was changed to Slavé, and then Slavey, to capture the new pronunciation. The name is seldom used by the Slavey, who call themselves Dene.

    Because most Athabaskan peoples call themselves Dene, the word is of little use in English. However, the northern Slavey are also known as the Sahtú.

    The names of the Slave River, Lesser Slave River, Great Slave Lake and Lesser Slave Lake all derive from this Cree name for their enemies, though not necessarily from the people now known as Slavey in English.

    May 16, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Michele Lusk

    History of a town does not have anything to do with the current inhabitants of the town now. Please just think of the poor people who have lost everything they own as well as their livelihoods.

    May 17, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jason

    Since when is CTV a CNN affiliate? BS.

    June 14, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
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