On Sunday, May 15, the town of Slave Lake in Alberta was engulfed in a wild fire that spread rapidly and unexpectedly through its community. Residents were evacuated, only to find that highways out of town were closed to smoke. The roadway eventually cleared, and families were able to go to Athabasca, Westlock and Edmonton to try to find shelter.
As of this point in time, no one knows the extent of damage on the town, but estimates indicate that over half of the community has been destroyed. Reports say that firefighters were caught off guard when a shift in wind spread the flames towards the community on Sunday.
If you’re looking for information on family members who were moved you can call Alberta Health Services at 1-866-301-2668.
A Red Cross number for people to try and get in touch with family members from Slave Lake has also been set up at 780-523-3388.
The Alberta arm of the Red Cross is accepting donations for displaced residents. You can donate by calling 1-800-418-1111.
“Characterized by many as “The Jewel of the North”, the Town of Slave Lake lies at the eastern end of Lesser Slave Lake, just 5 ½ hours South West of Fort McMurray. Slave Lake is a progressive, dynamic community, with our crisp blue lake, white sandy beaches, blazing sunsets, lush green forests, spectacular native flora and a variety of wildlife that provides an unsurpassed natural beauty for all to enjoy. ” Taken from the town of Slave Lake website.
The catastrophic damage has destroyed hundreds of homes, churches and businesses, as well as the town hall, library and radio station.
There is no power, cellphone service has been spotty, and 7,000 residents were forced to flee through a single road, the only highway open as fires rage on all sides.
A facebook page with information on Donations here.
92.7 Lake FM has current updates.
CBC News link to further information.
You can see the Government of Alberta Information Bulletin here.
By the end of the day, this is estimated to be the largest evacuation in Alberta history.
The town, if any of it survives, will never be the same again.
More photos from CTV here.
People are trying to help as best as they can. Here’s a facebook link to a young family who would like to compile emergency backpacks for children affected by the disaster. Lyric and Kaliya’s Slave Lake Challenge. Here’s an excerpt from the site:”
Calgary is sending 100 firefighters and 8 trucks to help. More here.
If you want to help, pick a reliable source, and help.
For Red Deer residents, here’s another link to help from 106.7 The Drive.
The Edmonton Journal is reporting that the Alberta Government is calling for 200 more firefighters, story here.
The Red Cross updates here. I urge you to be smart when considering donating to help. Contribute to reliable sources … places you know that will use your funds the way you want. There are many scams out there that will take advantage of a situation like this.
As of 11:47 am, Monday May 16
Ed Stelmach is on his way to see the damage. More here.
The news on CNN here. The information about the tragedy is beginning to make its way through international news.
Call the Red Cross at 1-800-418-1111 to donate or donate online here.
Evacuees in Edmonton are being sent to the Northlands Expo Centre.
Fire crews gave everything to save the city. “Alberta fire officials defended their efforts to try to save Slave Lake a day after 7,000 residents were forced to flee as a powerful, fast-moving fire destroyed a wide swath of the town.” Read more at the Globe and Mail here.
As of 12:12 pm, Monday May 16
The Edmonton Evacuation site prepares for families. Please do NOT visit the evacuation site, as it will interfere with logistics.
Miraculously, no injuries or deaths have been reported. But the devastation is astronomical.
City of Edmonton Responds to Emergency: More here at City of Edmonton Website.
Another way to help: Rebuild Slave Lake website.
Yahoo News Video here. “Explaining Slave Lake fire” Alberta government spokesman Duncan MacDonnell details the scope of the problems of fighting the wildfires.
CTV Report as of 12:11 pm Monday here. Slave Lake residents flee to neighbouring communities.
“Thousands flee Alberta wildfires: ‘I watched the whole town burn'” Article from the Examiner here.
Live in Morinville? Click here for information on how you can help.
Homes and neighbourhoods have been completely destroyed.
There is nothing left of huge sections of the community.
Alberta Government video on the devastation.
An excerpt from Wikipedia on the fire: “On May 15, 2011, the town was put in immediate danger from wildfires in the area. Winds upwards of 80 km/h pushed the flames into the town and destroyed hundreds of homes. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued, but with highways being closed, residents were urged to make their way to beaches, large parking lots, and open green spaces. On May 16, provincial officials said that 40% of the town had been destroyed or damaged, including the town hall, a radio station, a mall, and a significant number of homes and other buildings.”
The Edmonton Sun is reporting that donations are pouring in for victims. They are encouraging cash donations to go through the Red Cross.
Mayor Karina Pillay-Kinnee says half the homes in the hardest-hit residential area in the town’s southeast have been damaged or destroyed.
CBC Story on MSN. “Provincial officials say 40 per cent of the town of Slave Lake, Alta., has been destroyed or damaged by wildfires which swept into the community with little warning Sunday night, forcing thousands to flee their homes. Most the destruction happened in the southwestern section of town, where half the homes were consumed by flames, said Alberta Municipal Affairs spokesperson John Muir.”
City of Calgary Mayor Nenshi makes a statement on the City of Calgary website. “The upheaval caused by fire and evacuation can be one of the most difficult experiences anyone can have. And, again, I–like many people–am deeply affected by this ongoing tragedy.”
Premier Stelmach is in Slave Lake now, getting an update on the situation.
Homes, businesses, community services … destroyed.
UPDATE from St. Albert Gazette: Local firefighters deployed to Slave Lake Morinville opens arena for donations. “The Ray McDonald Sports Centre is being used to collect items needed at temporary shelters in Westlock and Athabasca, where evacuation centres are housing people displaced from their homes in Slave Lake. The top item on the wanted list for the Westlock centre is pet food, said Coun. Lisa Holmes.”
CBC News: :Alberta Fires Shut Down Energy Operations” Wildfires in northern Alberta prompted some energy and transportation companies to temporarily shut down their operations Monday. Fires in and around Slave Lake on Sunday have resulted in the mandatory evacuation of the town after the destruction of hundreds of homes, churches and businesses.
Video by Gordon Wolters: “Canyon Creek. My home, last pictures taken of it. Everything is now gone.”
Video of resident waiting to leave town, watching the smoke billow from the buildings.
More pictures from CTV.
Showing the extent of the damage.
And how much the flames wiped out.
As of Monday, May 16, 3:00 pm
The Red Cross page with the direct link to help Slave Lake is now up and running. Click here to go directly to the site.
YouTube Video from klizilii, with this description, “Heading west is not working… even though they were directing us that way. There is sooo much smoke covering the sky in the west from the other forest fire to the SW of town. They highway will be closed ahead… people are being turned around.” Unsure as to when this was uploaded.
Photo’s from the Calgary Herald.
The intensity of smoke and heat and noise must have been overwhelming.
Shannon DoS Santos: “The Slave Lake fire devastated my family there. These pictures should not have been taken just an hour after the fire wiped out my brother’s home on 6th Ave. He snuck down the hill from the evacuation spot and took these pictures. He lost everything and is still trying to find out what to as they have been evacuated from several other areas.”
Photograph by: Shane O’Brien, Reader Photo, edmontonjournal.com
Hundreds of families have lost everything.
How will they rebuild?
How will the town rebuild?
These pictures, and article on the tragedy at Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal, here.
As of Monday, May 16, 3:30 pm
International news: Article on BBC Online, here. “Wildfires decimate Slave Lake in Alberta
Map of Alberta, Canada: Wildfires fuelled by high winds have blazed through more than a third of a town in Canada’s Alberta province, police say, forcing thousands to flee.”
NASA Picture of Fire:
The link to the above picture is here.
Help from the East! Ontario firefighters will be coming out west to help. Read more on CBC here.
As of 3:49 pm, Monday, May 16:
Q99 Update: About 95% of residents have been safely evacuated. Crews are conducting a house-to-house search to see if there’s anyone left. No one is being allowed back into the community due to safety concerns. Officials say there is a lack of portable water, power and gas supplies in the community. Plans are underway for addressing these shortages.
The town hall was only a year old.
Early in the 1930’s a major flood wiped out most of this settlement and the inhabitants decided to locate about 5 km further south of the river mouth and rename the community Slave Lake, which officially became incorporated as a town in 1965.
Some homes are saved, while others are razed to the ground.
Government buildings, including the library. What a tragedy.
Above picture from the Edmonton Journal. Keyki Anderson, left, her daughter Keyshia, 5, and sister Honey Anderson, 18, outside the Edmonton Expo Centre on Monday, May 16, 2011, where people were evacuated to from their homes in Slave Lake due to the fires the struck the community on Sunday.
The Edmonton Expo Centre provides a temporary home to people on Monday, May 16, 2011, after residents of Slave Lake were evacuated due to wildfires that struck the town.
Honey Anderson, 18, and her boyfriend Casheem Young, 21, from New York City, outside the Edmonton Expo Centre on Monday, May 16, 2011, where people were evacuated to from their homes in Slave Lake due to the fires the struck the community on Sunday.
Expo centre set up for evacuees.
Slave Lake Library, before the blaze.
Slave Lake Library, this morning.
Link to residents stories at Updated News. “Thousands of Slave Lake residents are waiting to learn if their homes have been destroyed by an out-of-control wildfire that has razed much of the northern Alberta town.”
A fire fighter searches for hot spots.
The Premier looks at burned out cars.
More close up pictures and story here.
Click here for a list of places helping Slave Lake. Rebuild Slave Lake.
Remains of the Town Hall.
Equipment is being moved to town to begin rebuild.
Morinville comes to aid.
aftermath – across Main St. from Gov. Centre. The old location of Subway last utilized as a church. On the right side is the Ford dealership with a row of burned out vehicles. The left was Ken Giblin realty office.
CTV Edmonton’s anchor Daryl McIntyre reports from Slave Lake with an update on the devastating wildfire that hit the town Sunday May 15, 2011.
A tour of the affected areas showed houses, businesses, civic offices and more obliterated by the flames.
Civic officials in Slave Lake worry that a weather forecast that could include high winds and lightning could fan the flames and put the rest of the town in jeopardy.
Putting out flare ups at Government Centre. We owe so much to the men and women who act bravely in these emergency situations.
Mayor’s tour of fire-ravaged town like trip through war zone. Read more here. “ATHABASCA, Alta. — As hundreds of firefighters converged with their equipment from across Western Canada on Slave Lake, the northern Alberta town’s mayor toured her community Monday afternoon and saw what could have been some blasted corner of a battlefield: homes and businesses reduced to hot ash, twisted steel and rubble.”
10:32 pm: Tweet from Justin Bieber: @justinbieber Please Pray For Slave Lake. They need your help.
Statement from Premier Stelmach
As of 10:36 Monday evening, there has been no statement from PM Harper.
Road bridges seem to be intact, but the debris will have to be removed, and water supplies deemed safe.
Vancouver Sun article: Hundreds of Slave Lake homes now just smouldering rubble.
Tuesday morning, May 17.
MSN Article on Slave Lake here. “Thousands flee ‘town on fire’ in Canada ”
Volunteer Darcie Statham sorts through donations for evacuated victims at the Westlock and District Community Hall in Westlock, Alta., on May 16. Source
Global National has multiple videos for viewing on this online article: Slave Lake inferno leaves eerie charred moonscape, carpets of ash “SLAVE LAKE, Alta. – What was once a neighbourhood of family homes is now an eerie moonscape of blackened cement foundations and charred automobile skeletons.”
Residents are not yet in any position to begin rebuilding. They are still in crisis. See the Globe and Mail article here.
Notice the firepit in the backyard seems to be the only thing left intact. See the source of this picture here. “Volunteers step up to help Slave Lake evacuees: Trying to maintain sense of normalcy after residents evacuated from fire-ravaged town”
Interesting article in Wildfire Today on the Government Centre that was ruined in the fire: “Wildfire destroys Slave Lake Government Centre and much of the town”
The Grand Opening of the building was July 29, 2010, less than ten months ago.
These pictures are found at All Voices.
Looking for hot spots.
CTV Article on efforts for animal rescue by the Edmonton Humane Society.
Today’s blog by The Edmontonian has a good summary of places to help, updates to read.
Article by CTV: Slave Lake wildfire evacuees asked to remain patient. “Evacuees from flame-ravaged Slave Lake, Alberta are being asked to remain patient as emergency crews struggle to bring the fires that have destroyed more than one-third of the town’s houses under control. ”
Today’s CNN article updating Slave Lake situation. “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.”
Short news release from The Canadian Press about today’s status: “SLAVE LAKE, Alta. — An emergency official says there’s no timeline as to when residents will be able to return to a northern Alberta town scorched by a forest fire.”
CBC Article: Slave Lake residents face wait after fire: 100 forest fires burning across central and northern Alberta.
Picture of Bridge taken by iNews880’s Matthew Bisson, Uploaded on 05/17/11 Source here.
More from INews 880: “Corus Edmonton wants to invite you by for lunch Wednesday, so you can show your support for Slave Lake. The company, which operates iNews880, together with partners 630 CHED, CISN-Country, and Joe-FM, will be holding a charity barbecue for Slave Lake emergency relief efforts, between 11:00am-1:00pm. ”
Alberta PrimeTime is asking for your well wishes: 12:20 Tweet: “Send us your thoughts and words for the Slave Lake evacuees and emergency crews.” @ABPrimetime
And with that, I’m wrapping this post up.
The information that came flying out yesterday, at times over 50 tweets every few seconds, was enormous. I felt it would be helpful to gather some of the relevant stuff and put it into one place. I hope it helped. Now there are thousands of places that share photos, videos, and news articles on the aftermath of the disaster. To try to continue compiling links would be a waste of time.
Most importantly: Please give to a reputable location to help the Slave Lake residents.
Click [here] to go to the “Rebuild Slave Lake & Area” Website, where there is great information on how to help this community.
To the people of Slave Lake. My prayers go out for you. Your lives have been changed forever, and this is only the beginning of a significant journey for you. From what I can see, the members of our provincial community are reaching out to you. I hope things come together and you are able to rebuild.
I am heartsick for your loss. Your possessions, your community, your friendships, your jobs. No one knows what is in store, and you are the ones who will walk the journey while we watch and support from the sidelines. Just know that more than a few tears have been shed on your behalf, and people around you care for your well being and your future.
Be safe, be wise, and we will cheer you on.
May 19: One more post:
The following links will take you to the maps outlying the damage done to the town. I acquired these maps from 630 CHED.