This morning we all got up and everyone headed off to school and work as normal. At 9:50 am I got a call from Andy (he of course is an EMT and Firefighter) to tell me to look out our living room window. When I looked what I saw was amazing. Before I show you the pics let me explain a little bit about the town we live in.
Kindersley has a population of 5000. In saskatchewan hockey and curling are our major sports in the winter and a huge source of revenue for the community. I guess one would really have to visit here to understand how HUGE these sports are. They are more than just winter entertainment and revenue builders. They are a huge part of our culture here. My Grandpa played hockey and curled and Isaiah actually has Grandpa's curling trophy in his room. You can see that when I say its a part of our culture it has been that way for generations. Even for families like ours who aren't directly involved in playing these sports, they are nevertheless a big part of who we are.
In Kindersley, there is the main part of the town - and then there is what many of us fondly refer to as "the burbs". This is a new subdivision of houses called Rosedale. It is across a small highway from the main town.
Rosedale is where we live. It is still very close but far enough away that at night when we sit on our deck in the summer, we can see the sun set over Kindersley and the haze of lights in the dark that circles over the town.
As many of you know, we just relocated to Kindersley in June, so we've only been here about 7 months but have really come to feel at home here so, it was a huge shock and a HUGE loss to our community when our ice rink - which is attached to our sportplex and swimming pool and right across the street from our boys elementary school and the high school burned to the ground this morning.
As I write it is 4:26 pm and our emergency services staff is still fighting the fire. Our highschool and the boys elementary school as well as the entire 1/2 of the town closest to the rink were all evacuated before lunch due to the smoke infiltrating the buildings. The high school was more severly affected than the elementary school and the kids there had been moved to the mall by about 10:00 this morning.
The 911 call came in around 9:38 this morning and by 10:00 the rink was totally engulfed in flames and a state of emergency had been called. 400 people needed to be evacuated from the rink since the Scott Tournament of Hearts was already in progress when the fire broke out.
These first pics are some that Isaiah took with his phone as they were leaving the high school:
This was shortly after they heard the fire had started. Looking from the front of the high school toward the ice rink - which is clearly visible even on a stormy day.
The above pic and the ones below are taken from behind the high school as the kids were leaving. You can clearly see from the pics how quickly the fire progressed:
This was my view from my deck - you can see here as well how over the course of about 10 minutes the fire progressed dramatically.
That big orange building to the right of the rink is our sport plex which is attached to the rink. In this complex we host hockey and curling like I said - in fact, the Ladies Provincial Curling championships had just begun last night. We also host a summer rodeo, a small circus, figure skating competitions as well as skating lessons, and many wedding dances and receptions.
You can see to the left of the fire in this picture that our pumper truck was shooting water onto the fire. In comparison to the size of the fire it seems like kind of a futile attempt. Firefighters and their trucks came from 4 other surrounding communities to help extinguish the fire. They expect that there will be severe smoke damage to the events center, the pool, the high school and possibly the elementary school.
Now, there is nothing left standing, just smoldering ashes. This is a huge loss for our small community. At the time the fire was raging I had gone to a local pizza shop to pick up a small pizza for the twins and then I was planning on taking it to the elementary school for lunch for them. The gentleman that owned the pizza place seemed quite shaken up and told me that his family moved to Kindersley when he was a child for his father to play hockey. His Dad died 4 years ago and he was the only hockey player in Kindersely's history who had ever had his jersey retired. It had been on display in the rink and now was gone. He commented that he and his wife were both on our 100th anniversay celebration committee which was supposed to be taking place in the summer, now, there would be no complex in which to host the celebrations.
I am VERY proud to be a member of this community that really pulled together - Tim Hortons took around 20 dozen donuts and 500 cups of coffee. One of the pizza places sent over 20 extra large pizzas and our local bakery sent over about 150 sandwiches and 5 or 6 dozen donuts for all of the police officers, ems staff and firefighters who were working to contain the fire and maintain safety. Since most of you that visit my blog are American, please keep in mind that it was -9.4 degrees farenheit this morning while these people were outside working.
As I was heading out the door of the pizza shop, he said to me - you know the kids aren't at the school anymore right? He directed me to the mall so I headed over there to retrieve them. When I arrived at the mall it was crazy. Parents trying to find their kids, children wondering when their parents would be coming for them. Teachers as guards at the door to be sure that they kept close track of all the students so no one would be injured or lost. Isaiah came running up to the van right away and hopped in and asked where Jacob and Eli were. I was shocked since I had expected them to be there at the mall. I ran to the teacher with the clip board and calmly asked where the elementary school children were to which she replied, "I don't know". No one seemed to know...
Now I don't want to blow this out of perspective because it was a recreational facility that burned to the ground. No one was hurt thank God but not knowing where my children were really caused me to think about what it would be like if there were a war nearby us.
We did eventually track the children down at a church downtown but man, I have to admit it was very scary not knowing where all my boys were and the feeling of panic of not caring about anything else except finding them.
I am so thankful that while we are bombarded in the news everyday by tragedy, we live in a country free from war. In a time when our community has suffered loss, I will choose to focus on how blessed we are and how grateful we should be to the men and women who sacrifice their lives everyday so that we can live in safety and freedom.