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Helping hands

Dear sir:

Quick reaction by a group of residents, fishermen and passers-by averted what could have turned into a major fire on Clearwater Lake on Thursday, Aug. 7 around 2 p.m.

We live on the lake at Sunny Cove, about three miles up the lake from the government dock. Our cabin is in a little bay in the cove, and is sheltered by a small island called Blueberry Island, which is about 50 feet from the mainland.

The island has attracted many people over the years for camping and shore lunches but, unfortunately, because of the many evergreen trees, a layer of needles, etc. is about six inches thick (or was) all over the island under the trees.

A fire pit has been built right under the trees and this is where the fire is believed to have started. Then it crept under the surface until we believe it surfaced on Thursday, when the strong wind quickly spread it into fierce flames.

Mrs. Thora Young and Mrs. Cecelia McComb, who was visiting her at their cabin across Sunny Cove from the island, were sitting in the porch when they noticed the flames shooting up on the island. Mrs. Young hurriedly notified her husband, who came over and picked me up in his boat.

We immediately tore down the lake and told Pat Howard at Ross’s Camp, who phoned in the alarm to the ministry. As we were leaving Ross’s, Pat was trying to alert members of the local fire volunteer group.

When we got back to the island, about 15 people were already on there with buckets of all sizes. And I might add people of all sizes, too; from the very young to the quite old. I believe the first people on the scene were Gerald Carruthers with his wife and sons, who were all packed up and on their way back to Lethbridge, Alta.

He has a cabin in the next cove to us, and would certainly have been one of the first ones to be wiped out along with Dale and Marilyn Strachan, who are right next to them in the same cove.

Also, and most amazingly, a fisherman in one of those large bass boats with the large outboard was throwing water up as high as eight feet up the sides of the rock where the moss was on fire by raising his prop and gunning the motor with great effect.

Meanwhile, the bucket brigade had grown to about 30 people and at this time, Mr. Kinnear, from the motor repair shop, and a Mr. Adams, from Land M Fly-In, plus one other person who I did not recognize, arrived with the fire department pump and hoses.

They very quickly got a real stream of water going on the stubborn spots and people began to relax a little. About then, a helicopter arrived with the first of the fire crew. We were informed this crew was working out of Dryden and we were led to believe that they were airborne from another fire, had stopped to refuel, and were directed to our fire.

After a quick assessment of the situation, the fire boss commended all present for the quick way in which they had responded on seeing the smoke. After the rest of the fire crew arrived by boat, they proceeded to mop things up and then wait for a pick-up that evening.

I can truthfully say that with the forest as dry as it is, and the fact that had the large tree on the tip of the island nearest the mainland flamed and sent its sparks over to the very large trees on the mainland, we would not of had much of a chance in controlling the blaze from thereon.

And as they say, our cabins would have been history.

I would like to personally thank all who took part, and especially the Clearwater fire volunteers who responded in such a timely fashion. Had the flames erupted late in the evening, or at night, I don’t think much could have been done.

Oh yes, also Pat Howard from Ross’s Camp for sticking on the phone until she got the responses she needed.

I would just like to close in commenting on how foolish people are who think they can get away with playing with fire at this time of year.

Signed,

G.W. Woollard

Emo, Ont.

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