December 24, 2016 2:00 pm
Updated: December 31, 2016 11:00 pm

Edmonton’s Top 10 stories of 2016

The Fort McMurray wildfire as it started burning the city on May 3, 2016. The wildfire was Edmonton's most-read story of the year.

Reid Fiest / Global News

As 2016 comes to a close, it’s time to look back at the stories readers in the Edmonton area found the most interesting this year.

From the raging Fort McMurray wildfire that displaced tens of thousands of people this spring, to a father’s plea for an extension on his 50/50 win, these are the stories that drew the most attention from Global Edmonton’s online audience over the past year.

You can also vote on your most memorable story of the year in our poll at the bottom of the page.

10) ‘Dark day’ for Nexen after fatal explosion at oilsands site near Fort McMurray

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On Jan. 15, 2016, one person was killed and another was critically injured in an explosion at the Nexen Long Lake oilsands facility near Fort McMurray.

The man killed in the explosion was later identified as 52-year-old Drew Foster. His family said Foster was an amazing father and husband.

Nearly two weeks later, the man critically injured in the explosion died in hospital. Dave Williams, 30, was originally from Scotchtown, Nova Scotia. He was a journeyman millwright at the Nexen Long Lake project.

The Nexen plant, about 80 kilometres south of Fort McMurray, was shut down following the deadly explosion.

Over the summer, Nexen said the employees caused the explosion. Ron Bailey, senior vice president of Canadian operations, declined to elaborate on the details of what the employees were doing, but said Williams and Foster were working outside the scope of their approved work activities when the explosion happened.

9) Fort McMurray triplet killed fleeing fires was daughter of deputy fire chief 

Watch below: A Fort McMurray radio host who has been sharing updates on the wildfire situation has shared a letter from his friend whose sister was killed in a crash on Highway 881.

While fleeing the devastating Fort McMurray wildfire back in May, a 15-year-old triplet and her cousin were killed in a fiery crash on Highway 881.

Emily Ryan was the daughter of Cranley Ryan, the deputy fire chief for Saprae Creek in Wood Buffalo. The teen’s 19-year-old cousin Aaron Hodgson was also killed in the crash.

READ MORE: ‘It’s just a little emptier’: Fort McMurray family home without daughter killed in crash

The pair was killed when their vehicle collided with a logging truck between Lac La Biche and Conklin.

8) ‘The first night I grieved the death of my daughter’: mother shares story of her daughter’s unlikely survival

In March, Global News spoke with a mother who told the story of her daughter’s survival after the 12-year-old was struck by a pickup truck while walking along a highway near Holden, Alta.

Renee Charette said she and her daughter, Navaeh Charette-Vogelaar, had gotten into a fight over her cellphone when Nevaeh stormed out.

Nevaeh was less than a kilometre away from the family’s home when she was hit in the back of the head by a truck’s mirror. The young girl was rushed to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton with a spinal cord injury where doctors gave her a one per cent change of survival.

“The first night, I grieved the death of my daughter,” Charette said. “She was dead.”

Charette credited the power of prayer for her daughter’s survival.

7) Emergency alert issued after torrential rain results in flooding in Westlock, Alta.

No Top 10 list in Alberta would be complete without a couple of weather stories. In late August, areas of central Alberta were rocked by wild weather.

An emergency alert was issued for the Westlock region after heavy rain led to flooding in the community north of Edmonton. Entire sections of the town were shut down and businesses were damaged because of the high waters.

There was so much water, residents were seen paddling through the streets in canoes.

Flooding was also reported in Drayton Valley, Buck Lake and Onoway.

6) Florida couple finds their ‘Alberta angels,’ who are actually from B.C.

Back in January, a Florida couple seriously injured in a highway collision in Wyoming the previous summer came forward to Global News in hopes of finding the “Alberta angels” credited with helping save their lives.

Jeff Hamilton and his wife, Jeri, were on their motorcycle heading to Yellowstone National Park when the back tire of their Harley Davidson blew out. The pair was thrown from the bike and slammed to the ground.

The Hamiltons were told by police a couple from Alberta came to their rescue. The couple called 911, gathered the Hamiltons’ belongings and followed the ambulance to hospital.

Less than 24 hours later, the Hamiltons learned their angels were from Kelowna, B.C. and connected with them over the phone.

“It may not have come up to be Alberta but it’s thanks to the Alberta people that we did find the people that did help,” Jeff Hamilton said.

5) Alberta teen injured after he says e-cigarette exploded 

WARNING: Some of the pictures in the video below are graphic in nature. 

This story came out of Lethbridge, where a 16-year-old boy said he was smoking an e-cigarette when it exploded in his mouth.

Ty Greer’s father, Perry Greer, told Global News his son suffered first and second-degree burns, as well as fractured teeth, as a result of the explosion.

“There was a fireball about two feet and it started his gym bag on fire,” Perry explained.

Perry described his son as a talented hockey player who has never smoked tobacco. He said his son purchased the e-cigarette from a store in north Lethbridge. The owner of the store declined comment to Global News.

4) Amber Alert issued for five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, July 12, an Alberta-wide Amber Alert was issued for five-year-old Taliyah Leigh Marsman. Calgary police believed she was abducted from the Panorama Hills community, where her mother, Sara Baillie, was found dead.

Marsman’s body was located near Chestermere, Alta. two days later.

Edward Delten Downey, 46, was later charged with two counts of first-degree murder in Marsman and Baillie’s deaths.

Officers said Downey was known to Marsman, Baillie, Baillie’s estranged husband, Colin Evan Marsman, and police.

In September, Downey’s lawyer entered two not guilty pleas on his behalf. A preliminary inquiry has been scheduled for the summer 2017.

3) Single father pleads for extension on $67K Oilers 50/50 prize deadline 

Our third-most-read story of the year had Global News readers divided after a single father asked for an exception to be made, after finding out he had the winning Edmonton Oilers 50/50 ticket two days too late.

Clayton Hinkey took his four-year-old son Roscoe to the Oilers game on Sunday, Oct. 16 as a birthday present. He bought a 50/50 ticket but left the game early because his son started to get restless and they had to make the two-hour drive home to Sedgewick, Alta.

Hinkey said he forgot about the tickets until Thursday at around 4 p.m., two days past the two-day limit to claim the prize.

The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation later announced it would make a “one-time exception” for Hinkey, awarding him the $67,692.50 prize.

2) Snow, freezing rain prompts special weather statement for much of Alberta

Edmonton’s first blast of winter weather this season came in mid-October, bringing with it snow and freezing rain. The wintry weather, which started Thursday and lasted through the weekend, prompted Environment Canada to issue winter storm, snowfall and freezing rain warnings for much of Alberta.

1) Fort McMurray wildfire

The top story of the year shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as the Fort McMurray wildfire touched people and made headlines from coast to coast this spring.

Our most-read story of the year came a few days after nearly 90,000 people were forced to flee Fort McMurray because of the wildfire now known as the beast.

READ MORE: ‘This is Fort McMurray burning’ video makes YouTube’s Top 10 list 

Three days after the mass evacuation, Google released the first clear images of the fire-ravaged community from space, showing deserted streets and devastated neighbourhoods. It was the first time evacuated residents could get a glimpse of whether their house was still standing.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire: First clear satellite images show deserted streets, burned homes

Which story resonated most with you? Vote in our poll below. And if your most-memorable story of the year isn’t on the list, tell us about it in the comments section below.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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