May 5, 2016 5:28 pm
Updated: May 5, 2016 7:34 pm

NB Premier Brian Gallant’s cousins among Fort McMurray wildfire victims

WATCH ABOVE: Family members of Maritimers escaping the flames in Fort McMurray have been clinging to their family members are OK. It’s a helpless feeling especially knowing one of them is eight months pregnant. Global’s Shelley Steeves reports.


The unfolding catastrophe of the wildfire in Fort McMurray is impacting many Maritime families, even those who hold our highest political offices.

Lea and Tony Scholten are Premier Brian Gallant’s aunt and uncle. Two of their sons are among the thousands of Maritimers forced to make harrowing escapes from the raging fire.

“You feel so helpless. It really was a nightmare I haven’t really slept in three days,” Lea told Global News.

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READ MORE: Before and after: Wildfire engulfs Fort McMurray

She was particularly worried about her son Jamie and his fiancee, Roslyn Uganecz, who is eight months pregnant. The couple were separated by a wall of flames on Tuesday as they tried to flee the city.

“As she was going up the hill all of the gas stations on the side started to go up, so large bangs and fire. She tried to get to me, I was around the corner and also stuck behind a wall of fire,” Jamie said in a FaceTime interview.

“She texted on our chat at one point and said I am alone I am scared and I don’t know where to go,” said Lea, adding she feared Roslyn may go into labour.

“We were really trying to keep the stress level down which was really hard given the situation we were in,” said Jamie.

Taking time to help others

Meanwhile, it took the Sholten’s other son, Jody more than 12 hours of driving through thick smoke and flames to reach his brother, all the while taking time to help others.

“On our way through we had seen a family of four that was running down the street with their luggage in their hand so we told them to jump in the back of our truck,” Jody said.

“They got the right attitude and it’s not only them it’s the people of Fort McMurray — I trust them they are great people,” said their father, Tony.

READ MORE: Nova Scotians tell emotional stories of escape from Fort McMurray wildfire

Tony says his sons finally reunited safely at a campground to the south of the city. He says he never had a doubt they would make it and is forever grateful to everyone who helped his boys escape.

“My boys tell me about people helping one another giving each other gas and encouraging words,” Tony said.

“My concern is not right now, my concern is the weeks and months and years down the road.”

The family doesn’t know if they will have homes to return to when they go back to their charred city, an uncertainty that hangs in the air like smoke for many Maritimers.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray fire: The fire chief hailed as a ‘hero’ for battling the raging blaze

Global News reached out to the premier for comment and his representative said Premier Gallant is very happy his cousins are safe and that appears that all New Brunswickers got out safely. His representative said his thoughts are with the people of Fort McMurray during this difficult time.


© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment

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