Images filled my tv screen and iPad. Wind whipped the forest into a racing wildfire and Nature taught a hard lesson. Mere humans cannot control her rampages. A raging inferno developed, roaring on either side of Highway 63 and through Fort McMurray. All residents were under an mandatory evacuation order. The amateur images and videos I saw were shot by people escaping through shooting flames and rolling black smoke. A living, breathing hell. Evacuees had no choice. To escape the fire, depending on where they were, it was out south or head north on Highway 63. The City of Fort McMurray has one route into town and one out. There isn't a lot of settlement along the way.
Amazingly, the evacuation was orderly. There were reports of people trying to avoid the gridlock by jumping the meridian or driving through the ditch. Some of them got stuck. As one young man said, "There's no use driving like an idiot. You have to wait it out." To this point, there haven't been serious injuries reported. The hospital was evacuated. Some people were airlifted to Edmonton, others went by bus to hospitals in neighbouring communities. All kinds of stories of narrow escapes and separated family members are emerging.
Propane tanks and gas stations exploded; homes and businesses burned to the ground. Those are things. Fort McMurray and its people will return. There are tough times ahead and I cannot imagine driving through a wildfire. or experiencing the loss of everything. The biggest need now is cash. Donations of supplies and goods (other than gas and food) are not helpful.
As I write this (Wednesday, noon), I don't know if the fire will re-ignite. This morning the fires in the city had burned themselves out. Showers are in the forecast but lightning strikes could start a new fire. Rain. lots of it, is needed.
My heart goes out to the people of Fort McMurray. Albertans and Canadians are generous. We will see you through this natural disaster. Life does go on. Two new babies were born in the Noralta evacuation camp. Welcome.
I've been writing on and off for years and this is where my more serious pieces will be.