Winnipeg curler details escaping Red Lake forest fire

By | August 12, 2020

WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg curler is sharing his experience after escaping the Red Lake forest fire, which forced the evacuation of the Northwestern Ontario municipality.

“There was a lot of panic,” said curler Colin Hodgson.

Hodgson said he was at the Cat Island Lodge on Monday, a fishing lodge close to 50 kilometres away from Red Lake when he saw smoke coming from the community.

“We saw the smoke (Monday) night and realized it was serious. Fortunately we had some Wi-Fi, so we were able to get some information from people in the town,” he said.

Hodgson said he had to wait for the opportunity to fly back into Red Lake. He then rushed back to his home, where he picked up his cats and some essentials.

“Obviously a lot of people have a lot to lose, so it was a pretty crazy experience,” he said.

“We were fortunate enough just to get out as the road blocks were going up near Ear Falls.”

Hodgson added when he got back into town, it looked like a scene out of the TV show ‘The Walking Dead,’ as there was no one around.

“Nobody was in the community,” he explained.

“Almost everybody had evacuated by the time we could even get back to town.”

Once Hodgson drove out of Red Lake, he first went to Kenora to see some family, and is now in Winnipeg.

He said he’s never seen anything like this.

“Personally I’ve never seen water bombers, scooping water off the lake and dropping it very frequently,” Hodgson said.

As for concerns about the spread of COVID-19 now that residents are displaced, Hodgson said it’s something on people’s minds.

“It changed everything for the community,” he said.

“I think our community had almost zero COVID-19 cases and if you really look at the logistics of where everyone has to go, there’s over 4,000 people displaced right now, some are in Thunder Bay, Dryden, Kenora, Fort Frances, Winnipeg, so all of a sudden we have all these people who are displaced and going wherever they need to go to seek shelter.”

As of Wednesday morning, the fire is 750 hectares in size.

– With files from CTV’s Stephanie Tsicos.

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