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'Like a war zone': 28 buildings destroyed by wildfire in Alta. Métis settlement

One of the biggest wildfires blazing across northern Alberta has claimed more than two dozen structures in a Métis community south of High Prairie.

That number includes 14 occupied homes, chairman Raymond Supernault of the East Prairie Métis Settlement confirmed to CTV News Edmonton during a tour on Tuesday.

"Wow, that's all I can say is wow. Big lump in my throat because I was sad. I'm still sad," he said of watching the flames devour part of his hometown.

About 300 people have been evacuated from the settlement.

Supernault said they are all eager to go home, but he's worried that will not happen quickly.

At 69,074 hectares, the blaze was still out of control Tuesday and the damage to East Prairie is extensive.

Raymond Supernault, chairman of the East Prairie Métis Settlement in an interview with CTV News Edmonton on May 9, 2023. (Brandon Lynch/CTV News Edmonton)

In addition to the buildings lost, a bridge within the community was also hit by flames. About half of its wooden deck is gone.

"We're trying to put out the fire. As fast as we can, we're trying to hook up the power," Supernault explained.

"I get asked every day, 'When can I come home? When can I come home?' Looking at the bridge, it's going to be awhile."

A wildfire destroyed more than two dozen buildings in the East Prairie Métis Settlement in May 2023. (Credit: Raymond Supernault)

Jessica Big Charles lost her home in East Prairie. It burned down on Friday, shortly after she drove away with whatever fit in her vehicle.

She was able to grab two of her dogs but said one is missing. She's staying at a hotel in High Prairie for now with other evacuees.

“It's like a war zone out there. The first night the fire was going on and we were out there trying to fight the fire…everything was exploding," she told CTV News Edmonton.

"Cars were exploding and propane tanks and quads were burning and houses were burning…it’s…it’s horrible.”

Supernault said he's hopeful for government help to rebuild. He also applauded his community for sticking together and helping each other.

“We were told from one of the Elders yesterday, we’re resilient, we’re strong, we’re Métis! You know it gives you hope because we are…we’re very resilient,” he said.

East Prairie Métis Settlement is located roughly 380 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jessica Robb Top Stories

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