The Fort McMurray forest fires have claimed over 500,000 hectares of land, including the home of 43 year old Victoria Morris and her family.
“We did everything we could, but no matter how hard we fight, only enough rain and colder temperatures can stop these fires,” says wildfire information officer Jeffrey Ross.
The fire currently covers a stretch of over 350 miles, and 1.000 forest fire fighters with the support of 20 helicopters are working day and night to stop the fire from advancing further.
For Victoria Morris the help was too late, but her misery would soon turn into luck. As a former Canada lottery player she had given up on it when her first daughter was born.
“I gave it up for my kids, we had little money and I could not afford to spend it on lottery tickets,” she says , “but when all these terrible things happened I was so stressed, I just went and bought another lottery ticket”.
An impulsive decision that would soon turn out to be her best decision. On Thursday the 26th of May she won the jackpot of $324,786.00!
“I was devastated when we lost our home, where we’ve lived our whole life. It belonged to my grandparents before us. But now this happened – it’s a huge relief for us! And Victoria would have never bought that ticket if we wouldn’t have lost everything first. ” says William Morris, her husband.
Next they’re planning to re-built their house, including special fire-proof materials and a swimming pool.
The fires around Fort McMurray are still raging on, but officials are optimistic they will be under control as soon as the beginning of June.
“The first people will be allowed back into the city in the beginning of June. It will take a while for the smoke to clear, so we expect people to come back only briefly to secure their property and take necessary belongings. Once strong winds have cleared the smoke, which might take up to several weeks, coming back permanently will be possible” a Fort McMurray fire department spokesman said in a recent press conference.