<p><span style="font-size: 24px;">A clear spring day turns to chaos.</span></p>
Wildfires are certainly not uncommon in northern Alberta. In the spring of 2011 there were 146 recorded in the Lesser Slave River area alone. In most cases, these fires are kept at bay by Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (SRD). In this instance, however, winds reaching 100km/h made suppression next to impossible.</p>
<p>Flames spread incredibly quickly and bypassed barriers put in their way by fire crews. Glowing embers were carried up to fifteen kilometers. Water bombers and helicopters were eventually grounded due to extreme winds and excessive chop in the nearby lake. All pre-existing man-made checks and balances were thwarted by the elements. In the words of Calgary Fire Services Public Information Officer Brian McAsey: "If our 1400 men and women were lined up on that road, if you told us it was coming, and if we had every apparatus ready to go, we could not have stopped that fire. It was unprecedented. It was unstoppable."</p>
<p>The toll of this catastrophe continues to be calculated. But despite one of the largest displacements of residents in Alberta's history, and despite the tragic loss of homes and businesses, common accounts from those on the ground are immense pride in the people of Lesser Slave River, and sheer amazement that not a single life was lost to the flames.
<p><span style="font-size: 24px;">Voices from the Front Line</span></p>
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