Investigators seek new clues in case of the missing firespotter
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.