Hand Hills local helps with High Level, Alta. wildfire

Volunteers continue to work on site near Zama City while a massive cloud of smoke continues moving upwards on Thurs. May 30. Photo courtesy of Keven Minchau

A Hand Hills area rancher, trucker and Westmoreland Mine employee has made the decision to help out during the High Level wildfires.

Keven Minchau has set off on a two week journey to Zama City, approximately 148 kilometres northwest of High Level, to continue the fight against an out-of-control wildfire continuing to take hold of northern Alberta.

Minchau has always wanted to help in a natural disaster situation and one night after watching the news on TV, he contacted Lewis Patmore with Patmore Oilfield Services who was in search of heavy machine operators for preventative measures.

He began his journey towards Zama City on Wed. May 29 once arrangements were made and an online wildfire orientation course was completed.

“Well, I always wanted to volunteer for something disaster-related. You know you see tornados and whatnot on TV and hurricanes and I thought I’d like to go and help with the clean up and what not.

“We [had] seen on the news the other day that this guy needed some people. He couldn’t get people to run his equipment so I realized I could run the equipment so I was looking for something challenging so I just made a call and it all worked out I guess so far.”

Minchau has been using dozers and other equipment to build fire guards and clear trees around cell phone towers and vital services to prevent fires from getting to these spaces.

Overall, the volunteer effort has been both exhilarating and humbling. “I am excited but I’m kind of scared too,” he said.

“But I think it’s a good kind of scared. I think you’d be crazy not to be scared because there is a lot of dangers there. This is running a machine I have lots of years running but doing a job that I have never done to this extreme before so it’s going to be a new set of dangers and everything but that is also the part that is exciting.”

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

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