In­ves­ti­ga­tors seek new clues in case of the miss­ing firespot­ter

Calgary Herald - - CITY+REGION - JON NY WAKE­FIELD jwake­[email protected]­media.com twit­ter.com/jon­ny­wake­field

ED­MON­TON Twelve years have passed since Stephanie Ste­wart went miss­ing from a fire look­out near Hin­ton, leav­ing be­hind lit­tle more than a smear of blood on a stair and a pot of boil­ing wa­ter on a stove­top.

But in­ves­ti­ga­tors are hop­ing a new search of the area can turn up clues in her dis­ap­pear­ance.

A team of around 100 people, in­clud­ing RCMP and search and res­cue crews from around the prov­ince, are comb­ing an area near the Athabasca Fire Look­out Tower where 70-year-old Ste­wart was last seen on Aug. 26, 2006.

They ’ve es­tab­lished a com­mand post near the tower and hope to cover 7,970 hectares over the next five days.

Dur­ing the fire sea­son, Ste­wart lived at the iso­lated look­out post about 25 km north of Hin­ton, work­ing as a sea­sonal fire spotter for the pro­vin­cial en­vi­ron­ment min­istry.

A slight woman — just five-foottwo and 105 pounds with blue eyes and chin-length grey hair — po­lice said she was nev­er­the­less an ex­pe­ri­enced out­door­swoman. She had spent more than a dozen years work­ing as a firespot­ter.

Robin Slater, a friend, told The Cana­dian Press in 2016 that Ste­wart was from Can­more. She de­scribed her as a phe­nom­e­nal woman who cy­cled solo across Canada and climbed Mount Kil­i­man­jaro. At the look­out, she tended a large gar­den, em­broi­dered, painted and read stacks of books.

Co-work­ers wor­ried when Ste­wart failed to call in the morn­ing weather re­port on Aug. 26, 2006. They at­tempted to con­tact her sev­eral times be­fore re­port­ing her miss­ing. An em­ployee sent to check on Ste­wart found the cabin empty. There was a boil­ing pot of wa­ter on the stove and some blood on the stairs lead­ing up to the cabin. Sev­eral blan­kets, pil­lows and a gold women’s ana­logue watch were miss­ing from her room, po­lice said at the time.

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