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. Michael

    I'm very surprised and shocked that this is a side article.... HALF a town burned.... WOW :`(

    May 16, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Jimbo

      No kidding, how is this not a main up front article. We had like 200 homes burn down in Colorado last year and that was national news for a week.

      May 16, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • lexrn

      If it is outside the US it is not important to the news agencies and Americans...unless of course it affects the US then it may work its way in there.

      May 16, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • booner1

      @ Michael we have seen some more recent photos of vehicles etc street lights it look like a bomb has gone off there.

      May 16, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. leeintulsa

    All this talk about canada makes me think of a recent south park. The royal wedding of the prince and princess of canada.lol funny

    May 16, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • momo

      wut lemuria or wuteva yer calld u no ucuttledachsiefishs kanadean lemus got feelins n we dont hav floppy hedas leik defomd

      May 16, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • booner1

      i hope im not the one who runs you over while your crossing the street

      May 16, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Scott

    leeintulsa....typical idot! How the hell do you find humor in this?

    Someone needs to smack you upside the head

    May 16, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Poolchick

      Think there is a line up to smack her. Her parents must be very proud to know they raised such an uncompassionate person.

      May 16, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jared

    Is is it just me or is Nature trying to tell us something?

    May 16, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • joe blowsky

      like dry wood burns?

      May 16, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tika8220

      Like wind causes fire to spread?

      May 16, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dave

    Leeintulsa I am disgusted with your comment, thousands of people have lost everything they own a town is destroyed and lives are changed forever in response to this you talk about south park????.....I am a Canadian and I have always felt Americans were our close cousins......people like you make me rethink this.....

    May 16, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • ThaGerGerm

      Easy Dave, I am in Spokane Wa, so not so far from you. We feel for ya brother and I will personally smack anyone I hear talking this trash in person! I really hope you guys get some of this rain that's dumping on us. Seems unfair we are drowning and you guys are burning. Good luck cuz, keep your chin up!

      May 16, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. rc

    This is such heartbreaking news. One of my husbands employees has family in Slave Lake, thankfully they are ok but everything is gone. City hall, the mall, a school and I heard the hospital, but I am not positive on that one are gone. I live in Edmonton and the winds here over the weekend were very strong and everything is very dry despite the long winter and all the snow that melted.Police are warning people to be careful with anything that can cause a fire. Six grass fires on friday in the city here were blamed on carelessly thrown cigarette butts. There is also a total fire ban. I hope they get the fire out and the people in Slave Lake are able to rebuild. Thankfully so far I have not seen any reports of any deaths or injuries. I hope it stays that way.

    May 16, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Canuck

      Such a sad situation...I understand that not only have they lost the local high school, the town hall, their shopping mall and the RCMP detachment...they've also lost the hospital and many homes...over 40% of the town is now gone. I'm in Calgary, I feel terrible for the displaced residents and for all who've lost everything they've worked so hard for. Horrible.

      May 16, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • rc

      Wow I didn't realize they lost the hospital. I am happy to say though facebook pages and donation sites are springing up everywhere to provide aid. Many people are opening their homes to families and pets.

      May 16, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ann

    I grew up in this town. Still have friends and family there. It is devastating.

    May 16, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Steve

    When I was stationed in Great Falls MT with the U.S. Air Force, I drove up to Calgary a few times, where the locals were some of the absolute nicest people I've ever met. I also remember the highway between the border and Calgary being as smooth as silk to drive on.....not a single bump to be found.

    I send my thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by these fires, and hope no loss of life occurs, and that the rebuilding efforts go smoothly and quickly.

    May 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan in Calgary

      Thanks for the kind words, we're proud of our city, and this country.

      I hope the people of Slave Lake pull together and get through this.

      May 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. banasy

    This is so, so sad. I can't imagine the loss this town is facing...

    May 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Eigen

    The damage is incredible. I didn't see in the article of the current version but the building imaged at the top is their town hall building, it was in the center of the town!

    May 16, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. cosmicc

    I have little sympathy for people who live in a flood plain and they complain when there's a flood. This is different. Wildfires can hit anywhere, whether the result of human stupidity or natural causes (lightning). While the obvious solution of building firebreaks may seem reasonable, it is a) costly, and b) likely to have severe negative side-effects.

    May 16, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • CantCatchMe

      Oooh cosmicc, what a waste of life you are!
      Based on your reasoning no one should live on the eastern seaboard and gulf states due to hurricanes, the same goes for the pacific seaboard for threats of tsunami's. How about the northern great lakes area – remember the ice storms there years ago? And don't get me started on all those selfish people living in areas where tornadoes are running rampant. Now, the flood plain – what do eat on a dialy basis? Any food products that are or are dreived from corn, wheat, etc are grown in flood plains – why? Because flooding is natures way of replenishing, rejuvenationg end re-enriching the soil.
      I have little sympathy for people who have handles like "cosmicc" or those that agree with them.

      May 16, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • candy

      hey Rain, how many towns in Canada were lost to wildfires in the last forty years? The answer is none. Your ignorance simply astounds me. What a jack-ass!

      May 16, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Canadian Genius

    It would suck to be up there. My thoughts and prayers are with them. The wind has been insane here in Edmonton the last few days. Add the dry weather and I guess this isn't too surprising.

    Not to sound heartless or anything, the government could always provide disaster relief, BUT the rebuild will be driven by the economy. If there are still jobs there after all this, then of course the town will be rebuilt. If the major employers move out, then they're finished. They're pretty isolated.

    May 16, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. TB

    Let's pray for these folks.........I have family there too and I am worried sick about them.

    May 16, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rain

    I agree there's alot of ignorance in the way we Americans relay our news but to say we don't care about Canada and it's people is false. We have had many disasters befall us recently that we still have yet to recover from and to now hear about the tragedy there and it being out of control still is heartbreaking. Our hearts and prayers go out to you all and pray there is no loss of life. I am hoping to see our military and fire departments join in to tackle this quickly. We do love you Canada. God bless you and may you have a speedy recovery.

    May 16, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. momo

    when i wuz statshn at aer tempul der wuz fire frummm fire nashun it wuz in manitoba 🙁

    May 16, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
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