There are reported to be 566 forest fires burning in British Columbia. That is extraordinary.
First off, thankfully we are not anywhere near these fires. Over 3000 people have been evacuated from various parts of the state and we hope they are all okay.
The state of Emergency is for 14 days and is a way to help the emergency services receive all the resources they need.
But, honestly, how do you deal with 500+ fires and how do they start? One newspaper article said that over 1000 fires had occurred and of these, 400 were human-created. Whether than means created by accident (a campfire gone awry) or deliberate is not clear.
A sky full of smoke
How do we know about the fires if we are not near them? As the whole sky is full of smoke. From Vancouver Island all the way to Alberta, the sky is a pale grey colour. Yesterday we drove for 11 hours (the kids just loved me for that piece of planning) and we saw 11 hours of smoke. It is not a problem for us – you can breathe fine, the world keeps working and moving; it is just on our selfish tourist level the smoke spoils the views. I know, not important in the scheme of priorities, it just makes a difference.
A history of fires
So far the estimates are that 381,000 hectares have been burned. This is 941,000 acres. This is double the size of Oxfordshire and it represents just the fires in British Columbia.
Last year 1.2 million hectares were burned in forest fires in British Columbia.
What are the causes? There are warnings everywhere – campfires are banned except in the fog zone (coastal areas which receive a lot of fog and hence are quite damp); there are large signs along the highways, yet still fires occur.
It seems that the prolonged period of hot weather from July has dried out the land to a tinderbox, and after 1st August lightning has ignited the fires. So the hotter and longer the heatwave, the worse the fires will be.
We are thankful to be safe. We leave Jasper National Park tomorrow en route south through the Icefields Parkway. We spent 3 nights in Whistler and if I get time I’ll write that up too.