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. Anita

    This article is getting better coverage on CNN than it's gotten in our own country. It's wonderful to see (most of) our neighbors showing your concern. As far as Canadian reports go, I've actually hear 30-40% of the town is gone, but those also put the population at closer to 7000 so obviously different numbers are at play. The point is, the community is destroyed. I hear they have managed to keep schools and hospitals safe, so far, but the fire is still "out of control", I'm not sure that will last.
    Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers, please continue. It's always appreciated.

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

    My thoughts are with the people of Slave Lake, and for their safety. I worked in the area 13 years ago, and it certainly is a vital community in the local economy.

    It's been a spring of extremes in the Canadian prairies – first flooding of the century in my home province of Saskatchewan, and Manitoba; and now this. And of course, I hope the levees hold along the Mighty Mississipp'.

    May 16, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed Sr

      The mighty Mississippi is going to slap hell out of the local rednecks...................Bubba will be under water bubbles...........

      May 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. linari


    *Clap, clap, clap!*

    Well said!

    May 16, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Lowe

    Yes like most have stated the town's population is closer to the 7000 mark and I can say that almost everyone, except some town council and firefighters have been evacuated. As for the damage the numbers are more in the 50% range now.

    May 16, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Carl Anthony

    Thank you all so much for your kind words. I was born in Slave Lake and now live in Calgary. I am utterly shocked at this whole situation. Many family and friends have lost their homes. My entire family lives only 100 kilometres away. I am praying and hoping this can get under control.

    May 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Linari

    We in the US have big hearts. We'll help all we can!

    May 16, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sk8104s8tan

    the winds are not helping put out the fire, instead the winds are spreading the fires.

    May 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jonah

    All the best wishes and hopes go out to those effected from us all. Tragedy can often bring us together.

    May 21, 2011 is approaching quickly. All the earthquakes, floods, enormous greed with folks pilfering the livelihoods of others with no regard scares me. Join me in prayer for the sake of the world this week, it couldn't possibly hurt you? You have a few days left before the whole world will be in unrest–please heed this message and look out for the signs.


    May 16, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fiona

      Perhaps those *affected* by the *effects* of the fire can go and live in the homes of all you doomsday folks. Publish the addresses before y'all get raptured.

      May 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Give me a flippin break. Everytime a tragedy happens you doomsday idiots claim it was some vengeful act of God and his prophecy is being fulfilled. Why cant you just accept the fact that things happen, and all we can do is work through it, and try to prevent it from happening again.

      May 16, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Fiona

    I'm left wondering why the houses are 10 feet apart in a town that small.

    May 16, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. john

    About time to change your town name, don't ya think?

    May 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amanda

      Hi John,

      Slave Lake is named for an aboriginal tribe that settled the area (Slavey, or Slavé in French). The accent over the e was later dropped.

      Slavery was never legal in Canada.

      May 16, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trisha

      We don't have the history with slavery that the US does. Ever heard of the undergroud railroad ... how people came to canada to escape slavery?

      May 16, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bernie

      The name is fine John. This from a Black Canadian!

      May 16, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy

    @Fiona: *Applause*

    Well said!

    May 16, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Apeman

    Those that post silliness may not be laughing if the price of oil goes up, considering how close this community is to the people who supply America with 20% of their oil

    May 16, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. RandomDude

    Another disaster.. jeeze.. when will it end?! Floods, wars, fires.. it's almost as if those ancient predictions are all coming true. Our world is falling apart and we only have ourselves to blame for it.

    May 16, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Luposian

      Whoo-hoo! The worse it gets, the sooner He is coming back... BRING IT ON!!!

      May 16, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Luposian

    Why'd they call the place "Slave Lake"? What a horribly derogative name!

    May 16, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tika8220

      The name has nothing to do with slavery. The origins comes from the Slavey aboriginal tribe that originally inhabited the area.

      May 16, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bernie

      You must be American right? The name is fine, in this county we have no issues with it!

      May 16, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. COFeels

    No slurry bombers or Helicopters being used? I know the wind may be too strong. Hope it dies down so they can attack from the air!

    May 16, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
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