The sky dumped buckets of rain, explosive thunder and lightning shook Jack Yeadon’s home, and the father started to cry.
Yeadon said it was the Creator telling him that his son was being honoured for his sacrifice in battling a wildfire near his home community in the Northwest Territories.
Adam Yeadon, 25, died while fighting a wildfire near Fort Liard, a hamlet north of the British Columbia boundary, on Saturday afternoon.
“I was connected to that storm,” Jack Yeadon said about the weather system that roared by his home Monday night.
“I think it was the universe saying, ‘Jack, we are with you. Your son is up here and he is powerful.’”
Adam Yeadon was a loving partner and a father to a two-year-old girl.
He loved his job as a woodland firefighter and had been doing it for several years, Jack Yeadon said. His dad remembered how they’d sit around the supper table and Adam Yeadon would excitedly talk about his work, describing how he would jump into a helicopter with his crew.
“He had peace in his heart. He had peace in his mind and he died happy,” Jack Yeadon said, his voice breaking. “He died doing the job that he loved.”
Wildfire information officer Jessica Davey-Quantick has said the firefighter was involved in combating a blaze that started July 7 in the Fort Liard District and was about 26 kilometres southeast of the hamlet.
Fort Liard Mayor Genevieve McLeod described the firefighter as hard-working and a big part of the community.
When Adam Yeadon wasn’t fighting fires, he worked for a family company that delivers firewood to the community. He would cut the wood to keep the community warm during the winter, his father said. Helping others is a family value, Jack Yeadon said.
His son was also brave, kind and full of humour, he added.
“We are lucky to have had Adam for the time that we did.”
Government officials have not provided details about what happened but said the RCMP and coroner’s office have been contacted. The family has indicated Adam Yeadon was injured by a tree.
Jack Yeadon said he is relying on Indigenous teachings and his connection with the land and Creator to try to find healing and meaning in his son’s death.
A woodpecker can be known as a caller of death, Jack Yeadon explained, and on Saturday afternoon the bird landed on a tree outside his home. The woodpecker put his head sideways and made loud “clack clack clack” sounds, he said. Jack Yeadon couldn’t look away.
“When I look back on the timeline, that woodpecker was banging on that tree outside my house about that time … my son’s life was over,” he said.
Parts of the Northwest Territories are seeing record-breaking temperatures this summer as heat waves sweep the country. Air quality advisories have also been issued for several communities across the territory due to wildfire smoke.
There were 94 active fires in the Northwest Territories, the government’s website indicated Tuesday. Twenty-three were out of control. This year so far, more than 9,500 square kilometres in the territory have burned.
Adam Yeadon’s death came just two days after another firefighter’s death as Canada deals with the record wildfire season. Devyn Gale, 19, died July 13 after a tree fell on her near Revelstoke, B.C.
Her death is now under investigation by police, the BC Coroners Service, WorkSafeBC and the BC Wildfire Service, Mounties said.
Based on forecasted conditions, Natural Resources Canada expects the wildfire season will continue to be unusually intense throughout July and into August.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 18, 2023.
— By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Saskatoon
The Canadian Press