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Alberta ranch destroyed by wildfire
Alberta ranch destroyed by wildfire

Alberta ranch destroyed by wildfire

The owners of Rocking Heart Ranch barely had time to collect their belongings

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter

An Alberta wildfire destroyed a ranch that’s been part of the province’s agricultural community since 1905, in just one day.

An out-of-control wildfire that’s estimated to be 20,000 hectares in size destroyed almost all of Rocking Heart Ranch including the ranch house, barn, arena and one of its feed yards. A farm equipment shop and a few boats surrounded by gravel are still standing.

The ranch has been in the family for more than 100 years and seeing generations of memories destroyed is hard to fathom, says Melody Garner-Skiba, whose parents own and operate the ranch.

“When I came across that hill and I saw our ranch of so many generations burnt to the ground, you can’t imaging the horror you feel when your childhood home and all the work, blood, sweat and tears the generations before you did (is) burnt to the ground,” she told Global News yesterday.

And the family had little time to collect what belongings they could before escaping the fire.

Jim Garner, Melody’s father, was helping a friend when he received word the fire was heading towards their home.

The family had less than half an hour to collect what they could.

“Twenty minutes to leave our ranch,” he told Global News. “We’ve got 50 years of memory there. I finished taking care of my parents in this home, finished raising my children – my grandchildren have all experienced (the ranch). You don’t replace that.”

Somehow, none of the 110 horses on the ranch were hurt during the fire, including four that were left locked in a barn during the rush to leave.

“I’m not a religious man, but something helped us last night,” Jim told CBC News yesterday. “(The horses) have gone through hell and back.”

Rocking Heart Ranch has its colt starting challenge and sale scheduled for this weekend. The family plans to go ahead with the event and use it to celebrate what they have left.

“Due to the fires many have asked if the Colt Starting Challenge is happening. The resounding answer is HELL YA!” someone from the ranch wrote on its Facebook page. “We also want to celebrate the fact that all of our horses and our family are safe and alive. Plus, the best way to start rebuilding is to move forward and this is a great first step.”

Top photo: Rocking Heart Ranch/Facebook