Some part of the province burns every year; the forests renewing themselves, killing off the beetles that mine the bark, bursting the cones that hold the next generation of seeds, clearing and fertilizing the soil. Without the fire, BC wouldn't be so green.
This year, with more than 220 fires going at the moment, covering, so far, 230 square kilometres, a large number of those fires are interface fires.
Firefighters distinguish between "interface fire" and ordinary forest fire. The interface fire is one where the forest comes close enough to populated areas for the fire to spread from one to the other. These fires are attacked with every means available. They are the ones that generate newspaper stories and evacuations. "Pure" forest fires, on the other hand, are controlled with little fanfare, or sometimes left to burn themselves out. (From my post, back in the 2010 fire season)
Forest fires have become city fires. Williams Lake, Kelowna (pop. 127,500), Princeton, Ashcroft, Kamloops (90,000), Alexis Creek, Cache Creek, 100 Mile House (pop. 2000), 150 Mile House, ... so far, over 7000 people** have been evacuated*. Many have lost their homes. Williams Lake residents (25,000 people) are being told to stay put, as there is no safe route out of the city.
BC has declared a state of emergency, the first since 2003, as thousands of firefighters race to keep up.
|My photo from 2010, near Alexis Creek. It's on fire again this week.|
And the weather continues hot and dry, becoming hotter. We still have two months of summer to go. Even here, on the island, in our green rainforest, it's dry.
|In deep forest, dust hangs over the road. At least it's not smoke. Near McIvor Lake.|
In comparison, in the fires of August, 2010, with 400 active fires, only 3 had caused evacuations.
Our area has suffered major fires, with the city of Campbell River threatened by fire on the outskirts, and 470 square kilometres burning, but that was long ago, in 1938.
The Canadian Red Cross is accepting donations to provide financial assistance, family reunification services, as well as cots and bedding for those forced out of their homes.
*Some of the evacuees are friends and family; they are all safe at the moment. A few friends are trapped in Williams Lake. Another friend reported watching from her deck as trees "candled" just across the lake. But she and her family are safe, so far.
Candling or Torching: a single tree or a small clump of trees is said to “candle” or “torch” when its foliage ignites and flares up, usually from bottom to top. (Wildfire Rank, BC Gov.)
Rain. We need rain!
** Update, Monday: 14,000 people now.