Fort McMurray fire part of 'whirlwind' week for newborn

Lindsay and Dan FitzGerald have had a 'whirlwind' week, having welcomed their newborn daughter into the world and then being forced to flee their home in Fort McMurray, Alta.

Lindsay and Dan FitzGerald were forced to leave home, hours after leaving the hospital

The fire in Fort McMurray, Alta., forced the parents of Tenley FitzGerald to flee their home with their daughter, the day after she was born. (Family Photo)

The first three days of Tenley FitzGerald's life have been action-packed, to say the least.

She was born on a Monday, brought home to her parents' place in Fort McMurray, Alta., the next day and then strapped in a car seat to flee a raging fire that same afternoon.

Then came a half-day drive to safety, with Tenley's parents stopping on a highway to change and feed her along the way.

"It's been a bit of a whirlwind," her mother, Lindsay FitzGerald, said when going over the situation on CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive on Thursday.

A police officer wears a mask while controlling a roadblock near a wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alta., on Thursday. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Lindsay, her husband, Dan, their three-day-old daughter and their dog are now in Athabasca, Alta., about 300 kilometres southwest of Fort McMurray, while they figure out what to do next.

Because they had to leave their home so quickly, all the FitzGeralds have with them are four suitcases packed with belongings and some things they need for their baby.

"We tried to get our wedding photo book and our laptops and that kind of stuff, but to be honest, I'm not really sure what we have and what we don't right now," she said.

Fortunately, little Tenley is doing well, all things considered.

"She's great. She's so perfect. We couldn't be more happy with her. We're very blessed," said FitzGerald. "She's healthy and keeping us sane and helping us get through this time."

Seeing the smoke and the flames up close

There is no timeline on when they will be able to return home. The only good news is that they have not heard any indication that their home is among the hundreds of buildings that have burned.

Dan FitzGerald is still thinking about the scary experience of trying to get out of a Fort McMurray subdivision, before they could put the danger in their rear-view mirror.

A wildfire moves towards the town of Anzac from Fort McMurray, Alta. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press )

"The whole time we were waiting, we could just see the flames in the distance getting closer and the smoke getting closer to us," he said.

"It was certainly a little unnerving, but you know, we kept hope and we said a couple prayers in the car and just hoped that God was watching out for us."

The couple plans to go to Edmonton for a few days, to see what happens next. If they can't go home at that point, they will head back to southwestern Ontario to be with their families.