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.
A pic of what trying to leave Fort McMurray looks like right now pic.twitter.com/ESE7bzPkx1
— chester (@ccccrystal__) May 4, 2016
“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.”