Slave Lake Fire

May 16, 2011 by staff 

Slave Lake FireSlave Lake Fire, Thousands of people forced to flee their community in northern Alberta as a wildfire whipped by the wind rustled through his people are waiting to see if houses were still standing. Police say nearly a third of Slave Lake has been destroyed or damaged. Reports say that the detachment of the RCMP, the town hall, school, library, radio station and residential homes have fallen into the flames. There were no reports of deaths or injuries. A man who decided to leave even before a mandatory evacuation of 7,000 residents of the city was ordered around the dinner said on Sunday that the rate of fire took everyone by surprise.

Scott Sieben said winds gusting up to 100 kilometers per hour fanned the flames. “It was almost like an imaginary hand by dragging.”

He said the fire was so intense that it was “like watching an oil fire. Black as black can be.”

“It was so out of control,” said Sieben, who with his wife, Leonne, was safe “far, far away” from heat. “I’m sure at some point there was a cloud that stretched for two miles.”

Residents were initially advised to go to green spaces, open spaces such as parking spaces or the beach called the shore of Lesser Slave Lake, a popular recreation area.

But as it became apparent that the fire was licking the edges of the city located on the southeast corner of the lake, they were told to leave the only road that was still open. Heavy smoke and flames had blocked the others.

Evacuation centers were set up communities of Westlock, Athabasca and the city of Edmonton, 250 miles south.

Alberta Municipal Affairs said last week that 90 percent of the city was empty and only essential or fire personnel remained.

More firefighters were on the way, including a team from Calgary and 70 in the Edmonton area. A national team heavy urban search and rescue was dispatched to Westlock to help handle the evacuees.

About 30 patients at the hospital in Slave Lake were transported to facilities in other communities, said John Muir, a spokesman for Alberta Emergency Management.

Crews have been working since Saturday to fight two separate fires near the city, but were challenged by high winds and hot, dry conditions.

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