07/17/2014 03:31 EDT | Updated 09/16/2014 05:59 EDT

‘Holy smokes!’ Wildfire leaves roadside shrine untouched

Violet Camsell-Blondin was driving N.W.T.’s Highway 3 this week when she noticed something odd. In the midst of a burnt-out forest, a small roadside shrine was untouched.

“I said, this can’t be. Holy smokes! I said.”

A fire was still smouldering along the edges of the highway when Camsell-Blondin was travelling from Edzo to Fort Providence — a route that’s frequently been closed due to wildfires — when she came upon the shrine.

“I always look out for it,” she says. “There’s a table that has three statues on there and I know in the past, people had made some offerings. I wondered if it was lost and ruined and destroyed in the fire.”

Not so.

When Camsell-Blondin spotted the shrine, she ordered her niece to pull over.

“Untouched!” she says. “Nothing happened to it.

“Everything around it is burnt except that little narrow path. I said, Holy smokes! I said. We need to stop here and we need to say a prayer.”

Camsell-Blondin and her niece got out to pray and take photographs, which she later shared on Facebook. She’s not big on social media, she says, but these were photos she felt a need to share.

Already, the photographs have drawn some negative comments, with some saying the path was preserved because of a sidewalk that used to cover it.

Camsell-Blondin's faith is unshaken. 

“You know, something like this, He did not disturb it,” Camsell-Blondin says. “You respect it and you honour it and you worship it.”

After saying a prayer for her sick brother-in-law, Camsell-Blondin left some beads behind and drove off.

The shrine is located on the east side of the highway south of Chan Lake, about halfway between Fort Providence and Edzo.