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Posted: May 4, 2016

This needs to make us think and act

E-KNOW copye-KNOW Editorial

By Ian Cobb

Most of us have barely got our summer apparel out and wildfire season is already hogging the headlines.

A small grass fire at the Fort Steele Transfer Station yesterday should serve as a strong reminder that being careless with fire during a warm, dry spring is flat out reckless and cause for great concern.

The site of the April 3 Fort Steele fire. Image courtesy RDEK
The site of the April 3 Fort Steele fire. Image courtesy RDEK

We are also all watching in shock as Fort McMurray is swarmed by wildfire and more than 60,000 people are being evacuated. This, too, should serve as a strong reminder for all East Kootenay residents and communities about how quickly fortunes can change.

Every community in the East Kootenay is an island of humanity on a sea of montane wilderness and, as the 2003 fire season showed, wildfire can come terrifying close and it can also overtake communities, as it has done to Fort McMurray, or to Slave Lake in 2011 or Kelowna and Cranbrook in 2003.

Last summer was another bad fire season, with several blazes coming close to communities in the region and campers robbed of campfires for almost the entire season.

This means that we as residents and caretakers of our precious East Kootenay paradise must do all we can to ensure that we do not add fuel to the potential fires.

Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) is a term that began to grow serious legs after the blazing summer of 2003.

This also means our senior levels of government, ever fond of downloading services onto municipalities and regional districts when the need to find money arises (which is always), must make more resources available for such things as WUI, fire fighting crews and fire ecology projects.

With the buzz about the Cascadia subduction zone and the eventual ‘big one’ that is going to come, seismic preparation is all the rage – and for good reason. So that means good luck when it comes to funds being found to bolster fire preparedness programs for rural B.C.

That puts the ball back in our court, locally. We are going to have to find the resources to protect our communities.

The best way to start is for each property owner to do what he/she can to fire proof their yards and homes.

And it means each and every one of us must use our Rocky Mountain living smarts and be wise when we use fire.

We cannot control where lightning strikes but we can stop leaving campfires unattended and we can stop flicking cigarettes out car windows. We are also wise enough to know when not burn yard debris without having to be told by the authorities.

We need to stop pushing our luck. Because as Fort McMurray is showing, when your luck runs out, it can be devastating.

To the people of Fort McMurray and area, and to those in northeast B.C., please remember that you are not alone. Help is on the way.

B104 truckFinally, if you can, a humanitarian aid package is being assembled by B-104 Total Country and The Drive and Integra Air.

Specific items being sought include diapers, wipes, toiletries, cardboard boxes, socks, underwear, baby formula, pillows, and tote bags to pack the supplies. Cash and gift cards are being accepted as well. No water please, as the plane can only carry so much weight. New items only please.

The drop-off location is at the Cranbrook Public Library. Look for the radio station’s pickup truck.

Lead image: By CBC News


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