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A Canadian couple came up with a beautiful way to honor the hundreds of firefighters who battled a dayslong wildfire that consumed a large area in Alberta, Canada.
Monique Brunet told CBC News that she was home cooking dinner May 3 when people started to voluntarily evacuate from certain areas of their home city of Fort McMurray.
Within hours, Brunet and her husband, Matt Brunet, had packed up suitcases with clothes and pictures. They headed for safety with their 2-year-old son as the massive wall of flames headed toward the city.
Monique was four weeks from her due date with the couple’s second child.
While the family was searching for a safe place to stay, Monique started having contractions.
“In the back of my head, it’s not realistic, this is not happening to us,” Monique told one news outlet. “I’m like, ‘No, it's fine. It’ll go away.’”
But that didn’t happen. By the next morning, the contractions got more intense. The couple was able to get to Grey Nun’s Hospital, and before they knew it, baby Brielle Monique Brunet arrived around 10:30 p.m. on May 4.
Not prepared for Brielle’s early arrival, friends and family rallied around the now family of four, surprising them with clothes, a stroller and a car seat.
“It was just so touching to see everyone just come together and help us,” Monique said.
Monique said she was touched by the community’s generosity and she also credits the first responders for getting tens of thousands of people to safety. She said she wanted to do something special to thank them.
The couple found photographer Kym Poelzer, who surprised them with a firefighter’s uniform. Matt wore it during the shoot, with Brielle nestled in the helmet.
“Every time you look at it your heart kind of melts and you look at how tiny she is inside this big hat. You can’t imagine what these people are going through,” Poelzer said.
Monique’s mother-in-law urged her to share the photo on Facebook, so the firefighters in Fort McMurray might see something positive that came from the fire.
“I just thought it would be a neat way to incorporate the fire and the firefighters,” Monique told the CBC. “They’re heroes to us, and she’s like our bundle of joy that came out of all this.”
The family is currently staying in an apartment. Baby Brielle is said to be happy and healthy.