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Author shares ‘scary’ story of 2017 Waterton wildfire with Calgary kids

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Author shares ‘scary’ story of 2017 Waterton wildfire with Calgary kids
WATCH: Some Calgary kids are sharing some important messages about protecting our planet. As Gil Tucker reports, they’re learning the lessons of one of the worst disasters in Alberta’s history – Oct 5, 2022

Some Calgary elementary school students are sharing some important messages about protecting our planet.

They’re learning the lessons of one of the worst disasters in Alberta’s history — the Kenow wildfire.

Students at the Calgary Changemaker School got a visit on Wednesday Oct. 5 from Calgary author Pamela McDowell.

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McDowell read sections from her new children’s book “Fire on the Mountain” and talked with the students about the real-life events at the heart of the story.

“This book was inspired by the Kenow wildfire, which raged through Waterton Lakes National Park five years ago,” McDowell told the students.

The 2017 fire in southwestern Alberta was fueled by high winds, hot weather and extremely dry conditions.

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The flames moved quickly, eventually burning through almost 40 per cent of the park.

The fire came close to destroying the Waterton townsite and also spread out onto nearby ranchlands.

“That’s really bad,” Grade 6 student Chimananda Ejiofoi said. “Bad for the environment and scary.”

“Fire on the Mountain” is the latest in a series of McDowell’s children’s books focusing on the environment.

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“It’s really important to get the message out about environmental stewardship, to get outside, connect with nature,” McDowell said.

It’s a message that hit home with the students.

“If there weren’t really any trees or any flowers, no bees can make honey,” Grade 2 student Lily Aldred said.

McDowell told the students about some of the important factors that contributed to the 2017 Kenow wildfire.

“The lightning strike that started the Kenow fire was deep in the mountains,” McDowell said.

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The students know there are steps people should take to prevent wildfires.

“Put out your campfire before you leave,” Grade 2 student Alenna Chornohos said.

McDowell told the students that firefighters from throughout Alberta came to Waterton to help fight the wildfire.

“They were very brave,” Ejiofoi said.

McDowell told the students that the Kenow wildfire shows the regenerative power of nature, showing them photos to demonstrate it.

“This is five years after — I took these photos just this summer,” McDowell said. “These are little seedlings, the deer returned.”

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