Those working in Cardinal Energy’s House Mountain Energy Field had a close-up view of the establishment of the wildfires north of Swan Hills at the beginning of May. As the fires continued to grow and spread, Cardinal’s workers and operators soon found themselves with a giant blaze across Highway 33 to their east (SWF057, northeast of Swan Hills) and a massive inferno to their southwest (SWF063, northwest of Swan Hills). With concern for the safety of their personnel as wildfire SWF063 continued to approach House Mountain and the Town of Swan Hills, Cardinal released their Swan Hills staff to go home and prepare for evacuation the morning of May 16, shortly before the mandatory evacuation order was issued for the area.

Neale Rushoway, House Mountain Area Foreman for Cardinal Energy and Deputy Fire Chief for the Swan Hills Fire Department (SHFD), soon found himself trading his role as foreman for that of Field Operations Chief, working in conjunction with the Town’s Incident Command Post to prepare and protect the town from the encroaching fires. 

Recognizing the SHFD’s need for “more tools in the toolbox” as they marshalled their resources to respond to this threat, Cardinal Energy donated a Defender mobile water trailer to the department.

The Defender series trailer has a 650 L capacity and is equipped with a two-hose combination wildland pump, with a price tag of roughly $7500. It is suitable for off-road and highway use and is specifically designed for ember control, hot spot flare-ups, and responding to out of control campfires. Rushoway jokes that the trailer can be used “anywhere wet stuff needs to go on hot stuff.” On a more serious note, he says, “We’re very happy to support the Swan Hills Fire Department.”

Rushoway said, “Cardinal Energy is very appreciative of the efforts of the volunteer firefighters; Incident Commander Clint Baker, Ops Section Chief Otto Fleming, Field Ops Chief Neale Rushoway, Task Force Leaders Captain John Harris and Lieutenant Clayton MacDonald, Senior Firefighter Jamie Molnar, and Firefighters Jean-Paul Beauchesne, Keaton Harris, Curtis Mann, Cole Rushoway, Tyler Selk, Stefan Vezina, Kyle Molnar, and Jacob Fleming. They worked tirelessly with Fire Departments from Big Lakes County, Faust, Kinuso, Grouard, and Slave Lake to protect Swan Hills from a potential wildfire incursion.”

By Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 07, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Grizzly Gazette   Swan Hills, Alberta

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