Between May and December of last year, Chris Flett went through two life-changing events: his house burned down and he won the lottery.
Flett, 34, recalls fetching his daughter from school and rushing home to grab some of his belongings as a forest fire began to threaten his hometown of Fort McMurray.
The fire, nicknamed “the beast” for its ferocity and unpredictability, began burning deep in the bush about May 1 and spread into the northern Alberta city on May 3, forcing 88,000 people from their homes for a month or more.
In all, almost 2,600 dwellings were destroyed, including Flett’s house in the hard-hit Beacon Hill neighbourhood.
Flett, business agent with the International Union of Operating Engineers, went back in early June with some friends to take stock of the damage.
“It was incredibly tough to watch everything you worked for in your life to be sitting there and be nothing but ashes.”
He dug …
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