‘Not a lot left’: Ranch rav­aged by south­ern Al­berta wild­fire

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - OPINION - LAU­REN KRUGEL

WATERTON, Alta. — Mem­bers of a south­ern Al­berta ranch­ing fam­ily are lean­ing on each other for sup­port af­ter a wild­fire swept through the prop­erty just out­side Waterton Lakes Na­tional Park.

Sierra Garner, 20, was awo­ken Mon­day night when she got a phone call say­ing her grand­par­ents had been ordered to leave their home on the Rock­ing Heart Ranch. She was told ev­ery­one was safe, but that there had been a fire.

On Tues­day morn­ing, she drove from her home in Leth­bridge to take stock of the dam­age.

“There was not a lot left,” she said Wed­nes­day.

Garner’s grandpa and nana, Jim and An­gel, would reg­u­larly get help from their three chil­dren and seven grand­chil­dren on the ranch. Garner says she would go ev­ery week­end.

When she drove onto the prop­erty, she would see a beau­ti­ful red log house. Now it’s gone, along with the feed yard, arena and barn.

The only thing left stand­ing was a shop hous­ing farm equip­ment and sup­plies that hap­pened to be sur­rounded by gravel. Trea­sured fam­ily keep­sakes in­side the house were de­stroyed.

“We have this old cow­boy hat that was my great-great grandpa’s. That’s burned down,” she said. “Ev­ery­thing that they own and our stuff as well was in there, ev­ery­thing.”

Garner said her fam­ily is grate­ful ev­ery­one got out safely and none of the 100 or so horses on the ranch was hurt.

“Ma­te­ri­als can be re­placed. We’ll get a new house, we’ll get a new barn, arena,” she said. “We’ll re­build ev­ery­thing. But if we would have lost any lives, that would have been a dif­fer­ent story, and thank gosh we didn’t.”

She said her grand­par­ents are hold­ing up well, con­sid­er­ing.

“I’ve got very strong grand­par­ents,” she said. “They’re do­ing OK. With­out our fam­ily here, we wouldn’t be as calm and col­lected as we are be­cause we all sup­port each other.”

The Al­berta gov­ern­ment says around 500 peo­ple are un­der evac­u­a­tion or­der in the Waterton Lakes Na­tional Park town­site and parts of Card­ston County, the Mu­nic­i­pal District of Pincher Creek and the Blood Re­serve, a First Na­tions com­mu­nity south­west of Leth­bridge.

The wild­fire, es­ti­mated at 330 sq. km., has not spread into the na­tional park’s town­site, but has de­stroyed its vis­i­tor cen­tre and other build­ings.

The Mu­nic­i­pal District of Pincher Creek said Wed­nes­day that the fire has de­stroyed five homes, five out­build­ings, two large sheds and one bridge on pri­vate prop­erty. As well, fence lines, hay and power lines burned.

It said the weather looks favourable, with a fore­cast of rain and lit­tle wind.

SIERRA GARNER PHOTO/HANDOUT, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Fire dam­age to the Rock­ing Heart Ranch near Waterton Lakes Na­tional Park.

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