Day 646, Cinqo De Mayo. It has been 24 years since the ACA Herxheimer first showed up. The northern wildfires spread out of control. It is on the news everywhere. As wildfires go, this is a six on the six scale. Yesterday was bad but now the fire is ten times larger. There is no way to put any good spin on that. A generation of struggles wiped out in a day.
A third of Canada’s oil production just got put on hold. The unthinkable just became reality. Then there is the massive evacuation on a scale rarely seen anywhere let alone here. At 850 square km., the fire is as big as the city of Calgary. 90,000 people have been evacuated. It is hard to put it all in perspective. An initial evacuation shelter community Anzac was also over run by fire. It is “A once in a lifetime inferno” it is said. th
Actually it is unprecedented. At possibly $9.0 billion lost, it will be Canada’s costliest disaster ever. The 1998 Ice Storm was $1.8 billion, while the Slave Lake fire was $700 million. People are still understandably in shock as this is only two days into the crisis from Tuesday afternoon. A large piece of Canada’s GDP shut down virtually overnight. The wildfire risk was always known to be there, but this trounced countermeasures against that.
Our mastery of the world is nothing when the ebbs and flows of nature wash it over in an hour. The surprise is how much could be taken so fast, here one hour, gone the next, but not from an earthquake. Incredibly, there were no fatalities. It was a close call all around. There is a high level of training and respect for the destructive power of fire there, and no doubt that was a factor. Many had a “Go” bag at the ready with essentials when the threat was raised a day before.
In retrospect, asphalt roof shingles are not really a good idea bordering natural woodlands. Some rare clay tile and metal roof houses survived. I call it the Kelowna reminder, when several hundred houses burnt there due to wildfire encroachment. It added up to a great firestarter for the main fuel source. It’s easy to second guess risk management though. It got worse much too fast. There is nothing we can do about it now.