Pincher Creek’s fire department answered the province’s call to help battle the Fort Chipewyan wildfire, sending two volunteer service members shortly after an evacuation order came into effect for the far northern community on the western shores of Lake Athabasca.
Fire prevention officer Dylan Yanke and paramedic Dylan Babb, who joined the department earlier this spring, left town in a department Ford F-150 on May 31, bound for an Edmonton Airport rendezvous with a military C-130 Hercules flew the truck to Fort Chip, according to fire Chief Pat Neumann.
“They’ll be on the ground tonight and, hopefully, they’ll get their assignments tomorrow morning,” Neumann told Shootin’ the Breeze Thursday afternoon.
The two Dylans will serve a 10-day stint helping with fire suppression near the conflagration’s front line, tracked last Wednesday afternoon at around 10 kilometres outside the community, and with efforts to safeguard buildings in the community itself.
Neumann said the department would consider extending the deployment as needed. The department is working with the Provincial Emergency Co-ordination Centre (formerly the Provincial Operating Centre), which asked for trained service people to help with the wildfire last week.
The Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission, which handles fire and ambulance services within town and the neighbouring municipal district, sent Yanke and firefighter Joe O’Dowd in early May to help battle a wildfire near Drayton Valley, roughly 130 kilometres south of Edmonton.
But the commission’s latest deployment is a first for the fire department, which has never been flown to a disaster area by Hercules.
“It’s not every day that we drive one of our trucks onto an airplane,” Neumann observed.
Fort Chip residents were put on a mandatory evacuation order on May 30, according to the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
The Fort Chip wildfire was still burning “out of control” as of June 5, covering an estimated 24,100 hectares (approximately 90 square miles). The wildfire was likely caused by a lightning strike, according to the Government of Alberta’s online Wildfire Status Dashboard.
By Laurie Tritschler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jun 07, 2023