POLITICS

'We're homeless. We have no town:' Sounds from the Slave Lake wildfire

05/13/2012 08:10 EDT | Updated 07/13/2012 05:12 EDT
SLAVE LAKE, Alta. - A look at what was said during and after the fire that destroyed 400 homes in Slave Lake:

"There wasn't much time to evacuate, fortunately we have no reported injuries or loss of life. We're going to definitely use all our hotel rooms. We're thankful a lot of families have opened up their homes." — Slave Lake Mayor Karina Pillay-Kinnee after a fire east of the community burns ten buildings and leads to the first batch of evacuations. May 15, 2011, mid-afternoon.

"I'm stressed out. I didn't get any food for my dog and cat." — Evacuee Marjorie Dietz. May 15, 2011, mid-afternoon.

"The town is on fire. Apparently there have been a lot of homes that have burned down." — RCMP spokeswoman Doris Stapleton as the situation worsens. May 15, early evening.

"Fire has breached the town of Slave Lake boundary along the southern portion ... " — Update on the town's website. It ends abruptly. May 15, early evening.

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"It was almost like an imaginary hand just pulling it along ... Black as black can be." — Resident Scott Sieben describing the fire. May 16.

"Fire was on both sides of the road." — Evacuee Rob Genaille describing his flight from town. May 16.

"We're homeless. We have no town. We have NO town." — Resident Coreen Attilon. May 16.

"This is the worst curve ball nature has thrown at us in recent memory." — Premier Ed Stelmach. May 16.

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"People want to know who lost their homes and who didn't. Do we have something to go back to? Is there a reason to go back?" — Resident Laurie Northeast as frustration mounts among evacuees. May 17

"We're working extremely hard — and so is the town of Slave Lake — to establish those conditions where people can return. We just don't have a timeline on that at the moment." — Colin Lloyd, the head of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency. May 17.

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"Get back, get back, get back!" — A panicked-sounding official as ammunition goes off in a burned-out home during a media tour of the fire area. May 18.

"That's the reason why we don't want people in the location here." — RCMP Sgt. Tim Taniguchi. May 18.

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"This is a very emotional undertaking for everyone involved. I understand the anxiety residents have felt since being evacuated, not knowing if their home or business had been damaged or destroyed." — Pillay-Kinnee as evacuees continue to wait for information. May 19.

"It's just the little personal items that you think of. They're well and truly gone." — Cara Block, who lost her wedding photos and a lifetime of mementoes when her home burned to the ground. May 19.

"You almost feel guilty because your home is standing." — Resident Brenda Mailhot, whose home was spared. May 19.

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"There's nothing worse than being without your own home and it's a terrible tragedy." — Prime Minister Stephen Harper after touring the area. May 20.

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"What a terrible way to be reminded of the courage our wildfire fighters display by being on the front lines for all of us." — Alberta Sustainable Resources Minister Mel Knight on the death of a helicopter pilot in a crash while fighting the wildfires. May 20.

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"It looked like a nuclear bomb had hit it. It's hard to even recognize where your own place is." — Resident Gerry Gliege after taking a bus tour of the devastation. May 23.

"It made me feel much better. My house is gone, all my neighbours' houses are gone, but we have all our schools. We have the hospital. We have so many people out there working so hard for us." — Resident Brenda Derkoch who was also on the tour. May 23.

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"It's very exciting for us" — Pillay-Kenny talking about a plan to bring people back in phases. May 25.

"We're coming home, person by person, to rebuild our community and get it running again." — Pillay-Kinnee. May 26.

"It's great to be home!" — A neighbour shouting to Bruce and Irene Bateman shortly after they turned the key on their bungalow, only to be welcomed by rotting salmon in the fridge. May 27.

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