Three years in a row, three sisters flee western Canada wildfires
Published Saturday, July 15, 2017 5:31PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, July 15, 2017 6:37PM EDT
Three sisters in western Canada now have something extra in common: over the past three years, each has been forced to evacuate their homes due to forest fires.
The latest escape of the Edmonton-raised siblings was by the youngest, who was recently forced out of her home near 100 Mile House, B.C.
“It’s a rollercoaster ride,” Tracy Pizzey told CTV Edmonton. “I could see it up over a ridge and I just knew -- I said, ‘I'm getting out right now’ cause at that point there was one road out and I felt so trapped.”
As of Saturday, more than 16,000 people have been forced from their homes as numerous wildfires rage across the province’s central and southern interior.
Tracy’s two older sisters, Barb and Sandy, can both relate.
“It's quite frightening and we know exactly what they're going through,” Barb Thorton-Dancey told CTV Edmonton. “This is a life changer.”
Barb and her husband, Gordon, live in Fort McMurray. As thousands of people raced away from their homes last spring, the couple stayed behind. Both work at Fort McMurray’s hospital and Barb couldn’t leave until all of the patients had been brought to safety.
“He had run home to get our dogs,” Barb said of her husband.
“And it was in the backyard at the time,” Gordon added.
The couple then knew that their home would be destroyed.
“It was hard, you know, seeing her go through that,” eldest sister Sandy Fairburn said.
Sandy herself was forced to flee her home near Rock Creek, B.C. a year earlier when wildfires threatened the community.
In August 2015, she was outside when she spotted smoke. It wasn’t long before she spotted the flames one hill over from her house.
With such little warning, her family fled without packing. They weren’t sure what would be left when they returned, but when they did, they discovered that neighbours and firefighters had fought off the flames, which came within less than three metres of their house.
“We were so fortunate,” Sandy said.
Tracy remembers hearing from her sister that day two summers ago.
“I was very shaken up from it,” she said. “This is always my go to place -- it's my favourite place. If I go on a holiday, I want to come here.”
That’s where Tracy is now, at Sandy’s mountaintop home, waiting for word on when she can return to her own fire-threatened house.
With a report from CTV Edmonton’s Susan Amerongen