Evacuation Alert for the City of Gold! What Five Items Would You Take?

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Timmins Daily Press

As I write this post, a fire-breathing dragon is wreaking havoc in the northern mining and lumber community where I was born and raised—Timmins, Ontario, a.k.a. the City of Gold. This is just one of many fires that has laid claim to over 45,000 hectares of forest. That’s akin to half the size of the City of Toronto!

On Monday morning, Terrol MacFarlane notified me of the horrific situation that is still unfolding. She said, “People are throwing their hands in the air and spouting off that all they can do now is pray.” Mortified, she screamed, “What?!!” Then she paused. “Let’s band together. Don’t tell God how big the problem is. Instead, tell Him how big your God is.”

Terrol also pleaded, “Pray for rain! The Noah type of rain!”

I scurried to my laptop and clicked on the You-Tube video she had just sent. My jaw dropped. I felt like I was hunkered down in a movie theatre watching a Stephen King horror flick. The nine minute video broadcast a spine chilling event that began Sunday, May 20th at 10:30 p.m.

The local press reported, “A forest fire broke out in a bush area of Timmins near the bottom of Rae Hill this evening, prompting city officials to evacuate areas east and west of the fire zone.”

As the video rolled, I shuddered. A massive plume billowed thousands of feet in the air, blotting out the early morning sun. Fanned by high winds, the fire crowned, and then tore through the treetops, spewing ash into the atmosphere. The dragon, brandishing a forked tongue, mocked the majestic landscape that lay directly in its path.

By the time firefighters arrived on the scene, timber dry trees crackled, snapped, and popped like Rice Krispies. A few minutes later, the blazing orange ball scorched the southern edge of the highway. Stunned motorists watched helplessly as the beast swept across four lanes of traffic, sparking fires on the north side. I blinked. All that remained were hot embers and charred vegetation.

The local press went on to say, “Local firefighters scrambled to try to get control, without success.”

As of 8:00 p.m., Thursday, May 24th, the roaring beast continues to ravage the northern frontier.

My prayers for safety and rain go out to the residents evacuated from their homes and cottages, and to the brave firefighters risking their lives for the City of Gold.

To view the video taken by Shawn Winsor, click on this link.

To view the firefighter tribute created by Madeleine Chester, click on this link.

Thank you Terrol for keeping me in the loop and for posing this question, “What would you take with you if you had to evacuate your home?”

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11 responses »

  1. Wow! How terrifying. I’m praying right now for those in danger.

    That is such a good question, Tracy! I used to live in Southern California (various places) and near Reno, Nevada, two areas threatened frequently by those ominous type fires so I’ve pondered this question before. Children tops the list of course! But of items I guess I would grab my Bible, my guitar, my great-grandmother’s hope chest filled with memorable items, as many pictures as possible and my computer/writing files. That’s my current list, but tonight some other important item may vie for attention. What about you?

    • Ah, so you can relate. Thanks for responding to Terrol’s question. I was waiting for someone to go first before I offered my list. As my children don’t live at home, these are are top five. My bible, it’s a source of guidance and comfort. My hubby, he’s irreplaceable. My two dogs, they’re adorable. My purse, it contains my identification, credit cards, and lipstick. And my laptop, it contains my writing. Okay, I hear you saying that was six items, but my dogs count as one.

  2. WOW Tracy…I did not realize you are from Timmins…Let’s all pray ‘rain’…smell it in the air…feel the dampness on our skin…hear the rustle of the leaves in the trees anticipating the moisture on it’s way…taste the mist forming in the air…feel the rain…Thank You for writing this heart felt post…

    • First of all, evacuation would be my final option. I, alongside my family would be signed up to assist with house checks and processing. I wouldn’t want to leave until I was no longer needed. If it came to that point I may be leaving with the clothes on my back, my kids and my dog. Outside of documentation, I need nothing else but faith…..and bug spray (it is Northern Ontario and I’m just not that brave) But if 5 is the number then here goes….my family,..they keep me grounded. My dog.. My computer (that is kind of a cheat because with it I can access music, photos, friends, communication networks and even Biblical truths) My glasses….can’t read without them….and every penny of cash I can scrape together. Credit cards and debit machine may not work……..it took me a long time to come up with this list….SO….imagine having 1 hour to leave your home knowing it may be forever lost. Would time change our choices.

      • Okay, so right off the bat you cheated. The question wasn’t, “Would evacuation be my final option?” But I’ll let you have it since you put so much thought into answering and coming up with the initial question. You brought up an excellent point about scrapping all the cash you could because more likely than not credit cards and debit machines would be useless. Of course, that would depend on the severity of the situation. And those pesky black flies and mosquitoes…I’d forgotten how ruthless their bites were. So bug spray it would be. And I see you sparked another great question. Hmm…would time change my choices? Nope. Thanks for the awesome response, Terrol!

  3. Oy I’m so sorry. I really feel your pain, knowing those powerful flames are out of control and lives may be in danger. I remember several years ago, the Jerusalem forest was devastated from fire (arson) I cried as I watched on TV each of those trees, burning like paper. Each tree had been planted so carefully, by someone, in memory of a loved one. Now the forest is majestic again. Most of the trees have been replaced and the winter/spring flowers are more beautiful than ever.
    If I had to evacuate my house?
    1) People out first.
    2) Cat out and safe in her carrier.
    3) My biggest handbag filled with what’s usually in it, inc; CC/cash + toiletries, meds, laptop.

    I praying that everyone will return to their homes safely ……

    • Hi Tovah:
      As of May 29th, the fire is still raging on the outskirts of the city (about 30 kilometers away.)
      Reinforcements are on site. According to my cousin, helicopters and water bombers takeoff and land, refilling every few minutes. The weather is changing–cooler, and rain is expected for Saturday and Sunday.
      Thanks for participating and offering up your prayers.
      Have a wonderful day!

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