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Fort Macleod folk supporting those impacted by fire

Fort Macleod residents delivered some relief to their rural neighbours who suffered losses during the Jan. 4 wildfire.
A volunteer committee last week was delivering the last of nine cheques totalling $7,700 the community provided through a barbecue and cash donations to ATB Financial.
“I’m very thrilled with the community response,” said Alliance Church pastor Ralph Light, who was a member of the committee struck to oversee the donations. “I think the community responded in spades.”
The fire started about 11:30 a.m. Jan. 4 about eight kilometres west of Highway 2 and north of Secondary Highway 785. The MD of Willow Creek ordered a state of emergency at 1:11 p.m.
Before it was brought under control late in the afternoon, the fire burned a swath seven miles long and three quarters of a mile wide and destroyed 15 structures such as a riding arena, barns and sheds and miles of pasture.
“We can sure be thankful it wasn’t a whole heck of a lot worse,” Pastor Light said.
Macleod Feed Mill was quick to respond to the need for fund-raising, organizing a barbecue Jan. 13 at Trinity United Church.
Other businesses and churches quickly offered their support, and people turned out in large numbers during the three-hour barbecue.
Donations in return for a hamburger, potato chips and a drink raised more than $6,000.
ATB Financial in Fort Macleod quickly set up an account through which donations could be made to the fire relief effort.
ATB Financial branches in Granum, Pincher Creek and Nanton opened similar accounts, which remain open for donations.
Three clergy members and three area farmers not impacted by the wildfire were recruited for the committee in charge of distributing the donations.
Light said it was important to have involved in the community people from the agricultural community who had a better understanding of costs involved in rebuilding.
“We thought they would have the expertise,” Pastor Light said.
The account was set up in the name of the Fort Macleod Alliance Church so the committee could issue receipts for tax purposes to people who required them.
A list of people who had suffered losses during the fire was compiled, and they were contacted to find out their losses and needs.
“Based on that, we divided up to pot,” Pastor Light said.
All the needs have not yet been met, and fund-raising is ongoing.
“There are other funds set up,” Pastor Light noted.
An account is open at CIBC in Fort Macleod for donations specifically for Gord and Sandy Hester and family, whose SR Training Centre was destroyed by the fire.
A barrel racing event, which includes a silent auction, is set for 11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 5 at Fort Macleod Midnight Stadium Agriplex in support of the Hesters.
“I applaud those efforts as well,” Pastor Light said. “Those are great community efforts.”

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