Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says an Alberta firefighter has died unexpectedly while he was helping fight wildfires in Ontario.
In a statement Friday, Notley said that Jerry Gadwa, a resident of Kehewin Cree First Nation in Alberta, was helping with firefighting efforts near the town of Red Lake, Ont., about 100 km east of the Manitoba boundary, when he died Thursday.
“On behalf of the Government of Alberta, I want to offer our deepest condolences and support to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr. Gadwa,” Notley said.
“As Albertans, we know all too well the sacrifices of our firefighters and first responders … Mr. Gadwa’s brave and selfless actions will be remembered.”
Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry confirmed an Alberta wildland firefighter died in northwestern Ontario.
“We are working with the (provincial police) and the Ministry of Labour as they investigate the firefighter’s death,” said Shayne McCool, a fire information officer with the province.
He couldn’t say whether that was typical procedure when a firefighter dies on duty.
“This is not a common occurrence,” said McCool.
“Our hearts do go out to our colleagues, family and friends back home, to his crew members and all of the Alberta firefighters and support staff who are helping keep Ontario safe.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford also posted his condolences on Twitter on Friday evening.
“While observing the fire suppression effort in Northern Ontario today, we honoured and remembered Jerry Gadwa from Alberta,” Ford wrote.
“The people of Ontario extend our deepest sympathies to his family.”
Firefighters in Ontario are battling dozens of forest fires in northern Ontario, many of which are not yet under control.
They’re getting help on the ground from crews that have come from across Canada, including Alberta, as well as from the United States and Mexico.