A massive wildfire has wreaked havoc on northern Alberta since early May, forcing 80,000 residents to evacuate the town of Fort McMurray. The 1.4 million-acre blaze destroyed an estimated 10 percent of the city, including at least 2,400 structures, and residents whose homes are still standing have only been given permission to return in the last few days.
For the many who lost their homes, a return to normal won't be so easy, but in the case of one displaced Fort McMurray family, they're moving past the fire with the help of a Flame.
On Thursday, the Calgary Flames posted a short video of star forward Johnny Gaudreau making a FaceTime call to a young fan identified as Liam. According to the video's description, Liam and his family lost their home in the fire, and the video chat was a surprise for the young supporter, who was celebrating his ninth birthday.
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During the portion of the call captured in the video, the 22-year-old Gaudreau, Calgary's leader in both goals and assists this season, discussed Liam's hockey career and chatted about a Gaudreau action figure Liam had received as a birthday gift. In addition, the team sent Liam an autographed puck and photo to add to his memorabilia collection.
Located more than 450 miles south of Fort McMurray, Calgary isn't the closest NHL franchise, geographically, to the town -- that would be the Edmonton Oilers, who play about 250 miles from Fort McMurray -- but it's heartwarming to see both the team and McMurray offer such a kind gesture for a faraway fan in need of a pick-me-up.