The horror stories coming from the Oct. 17 fires which ravaged southern Alberta and southwest Saskatchewan are heartbreaking, even for the hardest of hearts.
Someone lost his life — his family lost a husband, father and geographical and the agriculture community lost a giving and generous contributor.
Others suffered horrific physical injuries, other people have suffered horrible mental anguish having either lost everything in the fires or having seen the devastation firsthand: either directly fighting the fire that night or having to deal with the subsequent aftermath.
It’s been a difficult time for many in southeast Alberta and southwest Saskatchewan — especially in the Hilda, Burstall areas where a wildfire literally jumped Highway 41 and the invisible border between Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Fires also hurt the Crowsnest Pass, southwest Alberta and had earlier damaged nature’s beauty in the Waterton area.
The Oct. 17 fires makes one wonder why things like this happen. People lost their homes, their livelihoods wiped out as their livestock literally were left charred in fields in acres of burnt grassland. The time to get this land back able to be useable for agriculture such as being able to feed cattle down the road will be immense.
Before anyone brings up “well, there’s insurance money”; it’s incredibly callously simplistic and cold to think this is solely about money and materialism. Building a life and a way of life is like a sanctuary. When something comes along to destroy it:it must be incredibly sad and unnerving.
However, there’s a few flickers of light in this dark cloud of hurt and devastation. A get together supper for those brave and extremely selfless first responders was scheduled to take place in Schuler Oct. 25. Hopefully there was some time for some thank-yous, healing, sharing of grief and some time for plans of rebuilding of both of community and lives in general. The beauty of this get-together is that of its resilient theme: “the fire had no borders, nor do we.”
There’s also a fundraiser for the families directly hurt scheduled for Fox Valley Oct. 30 at the community hall.
It’s this kind of toughness, compassion, empathy and sense of community which should be an inspiration to the rest of us fortunate souls.
At the extreme very least, one also hopes the rest of us not directly effected by such devastation will realize and appreciate what we do have in our own lives, even if it’s small in relative standards. You may not have a lot of major material possessions and life may not be what you want it to be right now. but just realize that someone out hurting worse… such as some of these effected people in that area saw their homes, their sanctuaries, covered in a wall of raging fire which was pushed by shifting, terrorizing 100-km winds.
If the spirit moves you, pray for these families who have lost everything, send words of encouragement to these firefighters, the vast majority of them volunteers… neighbours, strangers who bravely and selflessly came to help. They should be lauded for their ridiculously selfless bravery. Donate to some cause which supports some of those effected either within the community or on GoFundMe.
Wherever you are, support your local fire department in some manner when the time presents itself.
Heck, not throwing out something flammable out of a moving vehicle during extremely dry conditions would be a start. Regardless, when the time comes, you’ll know the right thing to do.
In the meantime, just try to live life and enjoy every moment, you never know when those winds of change will shift for the worse.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post.