‘A miracle’: Advocate says help being planned for victims of Calgary house explosion
Firefighters attend the scene of a house explosion that injured several people, destroyed one home and damaged others in Calgary on Monday, March 27, 2023. A leader in Calgary’s South Sudanese community says efforts will be made to provide financial help to 10 people seriously injured in a house explosion. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
By Bill Graveland in Calgary
A leader in Calgary’s South Sudanese community says efforts are to be made to provide financial help to 10 people seriously injured in a house explosion.
The blast Monday destroyed one home, damaged several others and left part of the roof from the house that blew up in a yard across the street in the neighbourhood east of downtown.
Calgary Emergency Medical Services has said all the victims were adults, and that six of them had life-threatening injuries and four were seriously hurt.
Community advocate Gar Gar said it appears all of the victims were from South Sudan. Gar said he and some of the victims’ family members met at one of the hospitals where the injured were taken.
“I met a son who came to the hospital and went in and saw his dad and you could see the tears in his eyes. That sounds like it’s related to something that he saw and the shape is father is in,” Gar said Tuesday.
“There are family members, cousins, uncles and their nephews and nieces. Eventually, those will be the houses that some of them, when they get out of the hospital, might also be hoping to get back in.”
The fire department said the force of the explosion created “a large debris field” and several fires. A tangle of what appeared to be charred beams, pink insulation and splintered wood could be seen where the house once stood.
Homes on either side were charred and one had a shattered window. A tree in front had a piece of plywood and other debris stuck in it.
Gar said after hearing about the explosion and seeing its aftermath, he can’t believe there have been no deaths so far.
“To hear that they’re still fighting for their lives and some of them are stable — that by itself is a miracle and we give thanks for the responders who came in and took them so quick,” he said.
“Back home, we would probably have been talking about something different.”
Gar said if all 10 victims were living inside the home, he wants to know why.
“That’s certainly something we are asking when we get more details to see what kept 10 people in one house. Is that affordability issues or is that simply because we’re seeing the homelessness coming into the South Sudanese community?”
Gar said community members will be meeting with the families Tuesday to see about setting up a crowdfunding page.
“Basically they lost everything in one blink of an eye. They’re fighting not to lose their lives,” Gar said.
“We’re hoping to rally around those families and the community to come together and to support them where we can.”
The cause of the explosion is still under investigation.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2023.
United Conservatives jump out to early lead in tight Alberta election
By Dean Bennett
Alberta’s United Conservative Party jumped out to a lead over the NDP in early returns Monday in what was forecast to be a tight race in the provincial election.
Danielle Smith’s UCP was holding strong in its traditional rural strongholds while Rachel Notley’s NDP was faring well in Edmonton, where it won all but one seat in 2019.
Early results were still mixed in the key battleground of Calgary.
The UCP is seeking a second mandate while the NDP is fighting to regain the majority government it lost to the UCP in 2019.
Polling have suggested a close contest between the two parties, with support for smaller parties falling off.
Advance polls set a record of 758,540 votes cast, eclipsing the previous record of more than 700,000 in 2019.
The campaign has taken place alongside a record-breaking spring for wildfires in Alberta. Ten communities were under evacuation orders Monday.
Elections Alberta set up alternate voting locations for those displaced. Evacuation was added as an eligible reason to vote by special ballot and mobile voting stations were placed in evacuation centres.
Calgary has been seen as the campaign’s battleground and half of the top 10 advance polling stations were in that city. Two were in Edmonton suburbs.
To win, the NDP would have to continue its dominance in Edmonton, flip the majority in Calgary and hope for some help in smaller cities, while defeating scores of UCP incumbents including cabinet ministers.
The NDP needs to swing 20 seats in the 87-seat legislature.
The UCP won 63 seats under then-leader Jason Kenney in 2019 to 24 for Notley’s NDP.
Polls suggest the UCP should continue its near total domination in rural areas and smaller centres, giving it a cushion of up to 40 or so seats to reach the 44 needed to form a majority government.
The month-long campaign has been dominated by the economy and health care.
Albertans are struggling with high costs for consumer goods, a shortage of family doctors and long waits in emergency rooms.
Smith has promised to keep Alberta the lowest-tax regime in Canada.
Her government, she says, would introduce a law to mandate a referendum before any personal or corporate income tax hikes. There would also be tax changes to benefit those making more than $60,000 a year, at a cost of $1 billion annually to the treasury.
The NDP promised to maintain Alberta’s status as Canada’s lowest tax regime. It pledged to end the tax on small businesses and raise the corporate income tax to 11 per cent from eight per cent, which it says would help pay for investments in health and education while keeping the books balanced and maintaining the lowest corporate rate in Canada.
The NDP also promised legislation to counteract UCP policies that hiked the cost of utilities, auto insurance, a range of fees and tuition.
Both leaders promised to preserve the publicly funded health system while creating more primary care teams — physicians accompanied by related specialists such as nurses and therapists — so more Albertans are able to access a family doctor and not clog emergency wards for care.
Polls showed trust was a key issue, with Notley viewed more favourably than her party and vice versa for Smith.
Smith was dogged during the campaign by past comments she made comparing those who took the COVID-19 vaccine to credulous followers of Adolf Hitler. A report also came out mid-campaign from the province’s ethics commissioner that concluded Smith undermined the rule of law by pressuring her justice minister to end the criminal court case of a COVID-19 protester.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2023.
Police looking for these 3 suspects after Super 8 Motel in Innisfail robbed early Monday morning
Innisfail RCMP investigate robbery
Innisfail Ala. – On May 29, 2023, at approximately 4:10 a.m., the Super 8 motel in Innisfail was the victim of an armed robbery. Three male suspects entered the hotel, two of which had firearms. Money was demanded from the manager. All three left the motel in a vehicle which is described as:
- Chevrolet Dura Max truck
The suspects are described as:
Suspect #1: Caucasian male, tall and muscular. Wearing jeans and a grey Under Armour hoody. He was carrying a pistol.
Suspect #2: Caucasian male, short. Wearing all black. He was carrying a sawed off shotgun
Suspect #3: Caucasian male tall with a chubby belly. He was wearing a grey hoody, jeans and a black ball hat.
If you have information about this incident, please call the Innisfail RCMP at 403-227-3341 or call your local police. If you want to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), by internet atwww.tipsubmit.com, or by SMS (check your local Crime Stoppers www.crimestoppers.ab.ca for instructions).
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