Williams Lake residents Ruth and Randy Hoehne’s good friends friends Dave and Jennifer Oger were separated from their children and their three dogs during the evacuation from the wild fire ripping through Fort McMurray Tuesday.
Dave is a firefighter and Jennifer works in X-ray at the Fort McMurray hospital.
When the hospital was evacuated Jennifer was sent north to a mining camp.
Dave was at home with their two young boys when he got the call to come and fight the fire.
He left their three dogs at home and took the boys to stay with a neighbour friend and headed out to fight the fire.
Shortly after that the Saprae Creek subdivision where they lived was evacuated and the neighbour headed to Edmonton with her children and the Oger children.
Still fighting the fire Dave couldn’t get back home to pick up their dogs so he put out a call for anyone nearby to please rescue them.
A friend went to the house and was able to rescue two of the dogs but the third dog ran away.
Late that night Dave was able to take a break and go home to see if he could find their other dog. Fortunately he found the dog hiding in the house and was able to take it to safety.
Meanwhile Jennifer was able to get a ride with her brother from the mining camp to Edmonton where she picked up their two boys, Alexander, 5, and Ethan, 2.
As they arrived in Edmonton, Jennifer learned that their house had burned to the ground but that her husband and dogs were all safe.
“The hardest part was telling Alexander that our house had burned down,” Jennifer told the Tribune/Weekend Advisor in an email from Ottawa.
“He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said: ‘What about my blue blankie and my toys?'”
“Luckily when Dave went back to the house to look for our missing dog I told him to grab Alexander’s blankie and he did. It was pure joy watching Alexander’s face when I told him the news.
“Dave also told me how he saw Alexander’s little boots sitting by the untouched trampoline as he tried to keep back the tears.
While Dave continues to fight the fire, Jennifer’s plans are to fly on to Newfoundland to stay with her parents.
While Jennifer is also five months pregnant, she is prepared to return to Fort McMurray hospital if the hospital re-opens and she is needed. Her parents have agreed to take care of the boys.
But as things look now, Jennifer may be starting her maternity leave early.
Jennifer said WestJet employees treated them wonderfully on the plane ride east.
At one point the attendants asked other passengers if they might have a spare pair of shoes for one of their sons who fled the fire with only one shoe on.
“We have been apart since Tuesday morning and it’s not looking like we will be together anytime soon as Dave states he will be going South to help out there when everything is taken care of in Fort McMurray.
“We are so blessed to have so many people around us. Please continue to pray for Dave and the rest of the fire fighters.”