Wildfires in Fort McMurray destroy Nova Scotia couple’s home

A wildfire destroyed Stephanie Sack and Blair Doucet's home in Fort McMurray, Alta. Tuesday/Photo courtesy of Stephanie Sack

A Mi’kmaw woman from Nova Scotia and her fiancé living in Fort McMurray, Alberta are homeless after wildfires destroyed their home Tuesday.

Stephanie Sack, who is originally from Indian Brook First Nation, N.S., said the couple lost their home and everything in it when the fire spread through the Centennial Trailer Park, destroying trailer homes in the park.

“We’re homeless,” Sack said when reached by phone on Wednesday. “We have three dogs. We have a truck and a car,” she said.

Sack and her fiancé, Blair Doucet, were evacuated from the Centennial Trailer Park Sunday afternoon when the fire was four kilometres away from their home. They stayed a friend’s home Sunday night and at a hotel Monday night while they waited to hear if they would be able to return home.

On Tuesday, the couple was returning to the motel located near the trailer park when they saw the park in flames. “We knew that we lost our home,” Sack said, her voice cracking.

“And the fire was starting to go across the street so we knew, like, that was it,” she said.

Sack said all the couple could do was watch in horror as propane tanks in the park exploded and a nearby gas bar exploded as well. “Our life changed in that very moment,” Sack said, crying.

“We had hardly anything with us because we were told immediately to get out of there on Sunday, thinking they would have us back in our place,” she said.

“It’s so horrifying to see, knowing that we saw the flames, we knew for sure that was it. Our home was gone,” Sack said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alta., had destroyed approximately 1,600 homes and 10,000 hectares of land. More than 80,000 people have been evacuated from the area.

“We have to start and rebuild all over again” – Stephanie Sack

Among the items the couple lost in the fire was a wedding dress for their upcoming wedding in Nova Scotia in August. Sack said plans to get married at home are up in the air now.

Sack said a stranger has invited the couple to stay at her place while they deal with issues such as dealing with insurance and finding another place to live.

Sack works as the Aboriginal liaison with Alberta Health Services and Doucet is a shovel operator at the Suncor mining site in Fort McMurray, Alta.

“We have to start and rebuild all over again,” she said.

In the meantime, Sack’s sister has set up a fundraising site at GoFundMe.com so people can donate money to help out the couple.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 13 people have donated $1,250. Sack said the support they have received from family and friends from home is  overwhelming.

“I will be eternally grateful. I’m speechless and I’m very thankful,” Sack said, crying.

“People are being very generous to us with prayers, sending us love and now donating money, I mean’s it’s just amazing,” she said.

“It’s amazing, especially when you’re here by yourself. We don’t have family here so it’s awesome that my community is getting behind me.”


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About Maureen Googoo 160 Articles
Maureen Googoo is an award-winning journalist from Indian Brook First Nation (Sipekne'katik) in Nova Scotia. She has worked in news for 30 years for media outlets such as CBC Radio, the Chronicle-Herald and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. Maureen has an arts degree in political science from Saint Mary's University in Halifax, a post-graduate degree in journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and a Masters degree in journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City.