WATERTON LAKES NP - Residents and business people continued to arrive back in the Waterton townsite Wednesday afternoon, this time along side some members of the public who were anxious to get a peek at the destruction.
Only the entrance road and townsite are accessible at this time because destruction elsewhere in the park still presents significant risk. Park officials will be monitoring to insure no one goes beyond the bounds of the townsite.
For those returning to the townsite, there is a common thread.
Not only did they have to leave everything behind in a frightened state but, they are coming back in disbelief and gratitude, to find a virtual oasis in the middle of scorched surroundings.
Darlene Hoglund, who works at Evergreen Gifts, shared her reaction in a soft-spoken state of awe.
"To leave, it was very, very scary, so then, coming back it was fantastic - I don't know how the firemen managed to save this town because the fire is right up to the backyards of these homes - we can never thank them enough for all they did for this little town."
Inside the shop where Hoglund works, merchandise is still on the counter and hung in display racks on the walls - not the least impacted by the event that unfolded outside.
The most amazing thing, says Hoglund, is that the homes and businesses have no tell-tale smell of smoke or ash, while homes outside of the park are having to contend with smoke inside and ash in the yards.
"It is amazing, when you see up at the Prince of Wales hotel - that fire came so close to burning that down, it's hard to believe when you look around - the mountains are black, the field is black - it's, it's just hard to believe."
The sentiments shared by those returning to the townsite, is their disbelief in the fact that the buildings are unmarked by flames and their gratitude to the firefighters who saved them.
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