Evacuees talk of fire experience

Burgis Beach and Sandy Beach both threatened Sunday

A grass fire in the Tiny, Sandy Beach, and Burgis Beach area got out of control on the weekend, pushed by strong winds carrying the flames close to both resorts.

By the time the fire was under control firefighters from five area departments; Canora, Rhein, Ebenezer, Yorkton and Sturgis would be part of the fight to control the blaze.

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A helicopter out of Yorkton would be called into action Sunday to douse the flames from above.

At Sandy Beach the fire was a close thing, one that saw people at their cabins told to evacuate early Sunday afternoon.

The family of Aaron Kienle was among those sent home, but Aaron himself was not content to sit at home in Yorkton while his summer residence and community was threatened.

If fire was the enemy, Kienle reasoned water was the solution. He got on the cellphone and started a search for water tanks. He found one through Tom Walsh, but to get it to the fire required a semi driver, a skill Kienle admitted he did not have.

But, Aaron’s brother Adam did. The duo were off to fight the fire.

However, Aaron would make another call first, to Yorkton Fire Chief Trevor Morrissey. At that point Sunday the Yorkton Department had not been called out. The phone call set the local department into action.

With the Yorkton Department on the scene Aaron and Adam “jumped over the fence” and went in search of hotspots with “shovel and rake” in hand, he explained.

It was 3:30 in the morning before the Kienle’s called it a day.

In terms of Sandy Beach, the fire did manage to jump into one yard, but only the grass and a tree were lost.

And, in retrospect Kienle said his effort was actually rather exhilarating.

“I’m actually walking the bush right now to see what I can see,” he told Yorkton This Week Monday. “... It’s the adventure of my life. It’s just pretty awesome, and we won.”

Not that the effort was easy. Aaron said there came a time Sunday when the adrenaline waned and the fatigue set in. It was at that point someone asked the brothers if they had eaten, as volunteers were on site feeding the firefighters.

“A burger, some baking, a drink, we started to feel human again, and it was back to work,” said, adding he wanted to thank the people providing food, and of course to all the firefighters who combined to thwart the blaze.

Down the road at Burgis Beach they smelled the smoke and knew the fire loomed close – very close.

For Rex and Randy Goulden it was to be a typical May long weekend, one where they would open up their cabin at Burgis Beach for the 37th summer.

“We were here Saturday morning putting things away,” said Goulden noting it was their first weekend at the cabin this year. “The water was turned on this week, so we come out to clean, and to get out for the long weekend.”

The long weekend trek has become a sort of spring pilgrimage, said Goulden.

“The children grew up here, now the grandchildren are growing up here, and experiencing being out here,” she said.

Goulden said they knew the wildfire had threatened nearby Sandy Beach with people evacuated early afternoon Sunday.

And then the knock on the door came.

It was the RCMP.

“They said we had to get out right away,” said Goulden.

The Goulden’s had faced evacuation before, the flood of 2010, but that was a slower thing. She said they could see the waters rising and had a little more time to move out. With a fire looming this was an immediate need to leave.

In preparing to leave Goulden said you become keenly aware “of what is important to you.”

It’s not the television sets and microwaves but instead it’s “the family treasures – the photographs and special items,” things Goulden said simply cannot be replaced. “You’re trying to gather them quickly.”

By 5 p.m. the Goulden's were in a caravan moving away from Burgis Beach in a haze of smoke, some with boats and equipment in tow, others with treasured items given by parents now passed.

Thankfully within hours the all clear was given and people were allowed back to their Burgis Beach properties. By Monday morning Randy Goulden was busy putting back the cherished photos and items she had made sure to take away from the threatening flames.

“Everything’s normal,” she told Yorkton This Week Monday morning. “There’s no injuries. People are safe. Property is safe. I’m putting pictures back on the walls, I’m fondling some of the family items as they go back in their place.”

© Copyright Yorkton This Week

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