Extraction of Fire Rangers on Smith Lake in Algonquin Park
2019 September 05
We recently travelled from McManus Lake, through Smith Lake to Whitson Lake on the start of a short canoe trip. That morning, upon checking the internet, we learned of a new fire from the night before on Smith Lake.
When we reached Smith Lake and headed towards the supposed fire site, there was no sign of any activity, or smoke, or smell of smoke. The lake seemed deserted. We looked at the campsite from the water and everything seemed normal but we didn’t get out of the canoe. Instead we headed a little farther up the lake and found a sheltered spot against the shore and in the sun to have a snack.
We were enjoying our snack break when suddenly there was a crashing through the bush almost right beside us. We looked up and there was a guy in a bright orange shirt heading downstream. I called out and almost gave him a heart attack as he hadn’t seen us. It turns out that he was the head of the fire team and they had extinguished the fire the night before. They were camped about a kilometer up the lake and were waiting to be airlifted out. He was checking on the fire one last time. We had a short pleasant conversation but he couldn’t talk long because he needed to check on the fire and then get back to his camp to catch the helicopter, which was already on its way.
After our snack we proceeded up the lake and were just upstream (and on the opposite shore) of the rangers' campsite when the helicopter showed up. Here are some photos: