Town devastated, fires out of control in Alberta
Fires burn Sunday in Slave Lake, Alberta, northwest of Edmonton.
May 17th, 2011
09:49 AM ET

Town devastated, fires out of control in Alberta

Thousands of residents of Slave Lake, Alberta, were awaiting word Tuesday on when they could return to the town they fled two days earlier when wind-whipped wildfires tore through it, destroying hundreds of buildings.

At least 7,000 left the town, 155 miles northwest of Edmonton, when flames picked up Sunday afternoon, according to news reports.

No injuries have been reported. But more than a third of the town's residences had burned as well as the town hall, library and other government buildings, according to reports. Schools and the hospital survived, but essential services were damaged or knocked out. The provincial government said water in Slave Lake was not suitable for drinking or bathing until further notice.

The town's residents were scattered in shelters or with friends or relatives around the province. People in shelters were told they would not be allowed back into Slave Lake for three or four days, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Mayor Karina Pillay-Kinnee said her community was devastated, according to an Edmonton Journal report. "I've never seen anything like this before. It's going to take a while to rebuild our community," the Journal quoted her as saying. "It's heart-wrenching as people lose their homes, their livelihood."

The two fires that brought destruction to Slave Lake remained out of control late Monday, provincial officials reported. Around Alberta, there were 115 wildfires burning, with 36 of those out of control, the province said on its website.

The communities of Loon Lake and Chisolm were also under evacuation orders, and evacuation advisories were issued for other areas. About 2,000 oil workers were evacuated from sites north of Fort McMurray, according to the government.

More than 1,000 firefighters were battling the blazes, and reinforcements were on the way from outside Alberta, the government said.

Almost 415 square miles of Alberta had burned, the province reported.

The CBC said there was a possibility of rain for Alberta on Tuesday through Thursday, but it was unlikely to be heavy enough to have much of an effect on the fires.

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Filed under: Canada • Fire • Natural Disasters
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Nora Dunn

    I guess it would be bad timing if I rhymed 'O Canada (frowns)

    In other news this awesome movie will be Playing at Lamaelle's Sunset 5 Theatre in Hollywood at 8000 sunset blvd at 5pm June 8th 2011 its premiering and everyones invited its about a young teen-ager who's drug problem may lose him everything including family

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xE6sBspiOe0&w=640&h=360]

    May 17, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  2. Frank

    Good morning People of the United States of America and Canada,
    To the Canadian Government,where were all your fire fighting aircraft.If this lake is next to the town.they could have came in and scooped up water via aircraft or helicopter and helped to put out the fire.Sounds like the Canadian Government really dropped the ball on this one!

    May 17, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Canadian Genius

      The wind was insane over the weekend, causing huge waves on the lake. They kept the water bombers on the ground waiting for the wind to die down. They now admit that may have been a mistake.

      May 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joey

    The kid has a dime-a-dozen problem, so audience identification will be easy, and a formula plot there is simple, even if the Solution is already known going into the theater: he gets well or dies.
    Little guy who just keeps coming at you.
    Odds are, this kid gets off the drugs, and we cry.
    Brilliantly written and acted, it's so political that it'll get an Oscar.

    May 17, 2011 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  4. Joey

    "Would get an Oscar," I should have said: I haven't seen it.

    May 17, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  5. Cricket

    Wrong place to spam for viewers, Nora Dunn.

    Frank, the Canadian Government is doing all it can to help her citizens. Playing armchair quarterback whilst talking about a subject you know nothing about is disingenuous at best. Stop it. That there are no injuries or loss of life is a testament to how good the gov't and her people are handling it.

    My heart goes out to our Canadian neighbors. I pray that the wildfires end soon.

    May 17, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  6. Joey

    I feel for everybody connected to that town in Canada.
    Everybody makes mistakes in planning, and sometimes terrible things happen regardless of planning.

    May 17, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. Christine

    Frank, the water bombers are in action this morning. Unfortunately, the same high winds that whipped the fire into town also grounded the bombers yesterday and Sunday.

    May 17, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  8. Azram

    My prayers to all of the citizens of Slave Lake.

    May 17, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  9. Douglass

    Frank
    Your comment shows that you have no idea of the problem. The same 100km winds that fanned the fire also caused 2 metre high waves on the lake so water bombers couid not be employed The towni s devastated no water no power and 7000 people evacuated with no deaths. Wake up!

    May 17, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  10. Frank

    I didnt realize im an idiot and function only when someone puts a dime in me. .duh im sorry im a fuktard

    May 17, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  11. Nicki

    Yea wake up!

    May 17, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. Frank

    People.
    Last time I checked planes fly through Hurricanes.the planes could have been loaded at the airport with water.2nd,even with 2 meter waves on the lake a helicopter could still go in and pull water out.Military Type helicopters should have been used.They can operate with winds at 100 MPH.

    May 17, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      It`s not just about loading the planes or flying them. When you drop that water into 100 km winds, it is dispersed to the point that it has no effect. You would be better off fighting this from the ground.

      May 17, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • J

      Dude, Canadians wrote the book on fighting forest fires. If only the government had consulted you, a smart a$$ twelve year old. I'm sure you know more about the operational tolerances of aircraft than the engineers that designed them or the pilots who fly them.

      Don't you think that if it was remotely possible, we'd have had aircraft up? Idiot. The government has done a great job so far. They can't control the wind, but an entire town evacuated, half of it burned and not one injury? I'd say they did a stellar job. How is the track record for disasters where you live?

      May 25, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Nicki

    Wake up!

    May 17, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Nicki

    Frank obviously has no clue about areodynamics updraft that type of thing so on behalf of the world. .shut up frank

    May 17, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Canadian Genius

    Winds are calming down in Edmonton today. Usually I can smell smoke and see haze when there are big fires up North, but not with this one. Prevailing winds are different than usual. Weird.

    May 17, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
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