Monday, August 17, 2015

Shitty "neighborhood" forest fire

It's kinda interesting my last post was about a fire lookout who didn't have a map of Canada because he works in a lookout on the USA side.  Well, I'm sure he saw the smoke from this one.  In fact, that lookout was surrounded 360 degree by active forest fire last weekend.  I wonder what it must be like for a person serving as a lookout to witness smoke emerge all over the landscape, puff, puff and roar.

In fact, there were people on the highway who saw it light up.

"My husband was on the way to Oliver and saw a little puff of smoke.
By the time he parked and got to the other side of the road, the trees went up".
Hopefully because there is a road cam looking up the highway the RCMP and Ministry of Forests and Ministry of Transportation will be able to find the car that threw out the cigarette.  -We're pretty sure there was no one on the Trans-Canada Trail/KVR, but there was cyclists going over Anarchist that afternoon.  We all knew it was ripe for a forest fire, but like human behaviour, I always think it's going to happen to someone else.  Now my neighborhood is responsible for dealing with a forest fire that continues to be dangerous. No fatalities yet, but lots of dead live stock that couldn't escape.

The fire went from where it started north, fueled by high winds and it was a super hot day. Considering that no human was killed is an absolute miracle because people left the  Kettle River Provincial Campground running.  I don't know when they changed the name to a "recreation area". Everyone around here calls it a Provincial Park.

Photo by Dylan Dar Eckes
So far, 30 homes have been lost and dozens of other structures in the fire zone.  Our communities have mobilized like crazy and a Facebook page was set up that communicated how people could help and how to get help.  Facebook is very useful for gauging opinion and to activating people to action. I'm studying social media/technology use and to understand how to best reach out to people in the community development work I'm doing.  This fire situation is another case study for me.

The evacuation zone is still active, although as of this afternoon the evacuation order
was down graded to an alert and they are able to return home.
And then there's the debate about people and residents defending their own home and property... makes interesting reading that hopefully will not all be forgotten by October.  I have no patience for the comment about needing to follow WorkSafeBC regulations.

These are the same regulations in effect for professional ski patrolling in British Columbia - the course that is required for WorkSafeBC regs is Occupational First Aid III which is completely insufficient training for outdoor emergency work or medical emergencies that are on a ski hill.  The training basically assumes you have access to all the gear that's outfitted in a medical response truck.
Rant over.

It's led Mark and me to pack our 6 p's:

Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance 


Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance 


people and pets
personal computers

The day the Rock Creek Fire started, we had gone swimming and cycling with some friends and luckily had done a car shuttle so we had a car.  The good news is that we were able to call our neighbors and get help for our fur children who we had left at home, and then we drove around on Friday via the Hwy 6 to Edgewood/Grand Forks where I've always wanted to travel. The Boundary has over 8,000 km of logging roads and honestly it seemed a pretty good detour for me.

Just glad I didn't have to ride home on a bike.  Usually  I get dropped off and cycle down the railroad grade when I'm working for Trails to the Boundary and then get picked up late in the evening.  If I was by myself that evening, I would've been not very prepared.  As it was, I learned that in order to be a true Boundary Girl, I need to carry my passport with me.  If we had our passports it would've been much shorter in time and distance to go through the US home.

Along the TCT/KVR there are some sweet swimming spots

The "clouds" in the background is actually smoke.
Edgewood - the plaque reads "this protohistoric pole depicts the life habits of the 
lake tribe of indians (Senatcheggs) who made the arrow lakes their home.  
The Senatcheggs now extinct were water travellers, hunters, fishermen and basket weavers 
who believed in a mythical god, the coyote.  Their pit houses and pictographs are 
not covered by the waters of the arrow reservoir."
Needless to say, the Sinxt are not extinct except in the government eyes, they are alive and well, but you sure wouldn't know it by reading this deception.  How we tell ourselves stories.  The story of the Rock Creek Fire will be a story that stays for a long time. I hope something really great comes out of it, like more community development focused on sustainability and optimism about the regrowth of the ponderosa trees and native grasses.

The bad news is that Mother Nature may be throwing a few more challenges our way with decreased humidity, increased temps and wind. This climate change is something we need to demand from our government leaders action on.  I've noticed people on social media commenting that this drought we've been having is a wake-up call.  We humans are good at dealing with the day to day, but long-range planning isn't the easiest.  It's hard to change but change we must.  There isn't a back-up plan.

August 15, coming home via the backway

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