While taking part in fire suppression efforts in Red Lake, Ont., a wildland firefighter from Alberta lost his life on Thursday.
Jerry Gadwa was from Kehewin, which is located about 20 kilometres south of Bonnyville, in eastern Alberta.
“We are one country and we look out for one another,” Premier Rachel Notley said.
“Mr. Gadwa and his fellow firefighters were in Ontario fighting to defend the well-being of their fellow Canadians. The sacrifice they and their families make is extraordinary and is felt heavily in hearts throughout Alberta and across Canada.”
On Sunday, fire crews from across the country were battling dozens of raging fires in northeastern Ontario.
The largest fire in the area – known as “Parry Sound 33” – prompted mandatory evacuation orders for 50 homes that are only accessible by boat on Saturday, several days after it was discovered.
The fires have often been helped along by Mother Nature, with hot, dry conditions combined with lightning strikes and blustery winds fuelling – and often igniting – the flames.
Firefighters and equipment have poured in from across Canada, the United States and Mexico to help Ontario-based crews.
“As Albertans, we know all too well the sacrifices of our firefighters and first responders,” Notley said. She offered her condolences to Gadwa’s family, friends and colleagues.
“Mr. Gadwa’s brave and selfless actions will be remembered.
“To those who knew him beyond his career – his family, friends and loved ones – it is my hope that your memories of him give you comfort, and that the shared grief of a grateful province and country provides you with peace. You are in our hearts, our thoughts and our prayers.”
No details were provided about how the firefighter was killed, the province only saying he “unexpectedly passed away while supporting fire suppression efforts in Red Lake.”
A spokeswoman with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry confirmed the death and says it’s under investigation.
Watch below: Forest fires continue to move through northeastern Ontario causing fire restrictions and evacuations in some parts of the province. As Erica Vella reports some people who have watched the flames are say it’s left them speechless.
— With a file from Canadian Press