Thursday, July 23, 2009

Forest Fires

This fire is unbelievable. Here is an article on the Fintry fire, which is a neighbouring community. I am glad that my pantry and canned goods are stocked, and that my husband will spend some time tomorrow organizing supplies. Filling up with gas takes on a whole new meaning when the smell of smoke fills the air of your town and you see the faces of evacuees at the rec center, uncertain when and if they will be able to return home. I don't think we will have to evacuate, so far our town is safe, but many evacuees are here in town and many more are on alert. It gives one pause, let's say. I am praying for more rain. Buckets and buckets of rain...

Rain dampens Okanagan fire threat but Fintry evacuees remain out of homes
By Sunny Dhillon (CP) – 2 hours ago

WEST KELOWNA, B.C. — An afternoon rain storm helped dampen the fire threat in the Okanagan a little Thursday but but not enough to send the latest group of evacuees home.

Ten millimetres was expected to fall on West Kelowna, B.C., and more appeared to be in the forecast over the next couple of days.

It came as 2,200 residents of the Fintry area grappled with being forced out of their homes by an "out of control" wildfire on Terrace Mountain.

The new evacuation order came just hours after the last of 11,000 people forced from their homes by two other West Kelowna wildfires were allowed to return.

Tim Neal, with the B.C. Forest Service, said Thursday's rain was welcome but fire crews could still use some more.

"We'd have to have ... about two inches (about 50 mm) of solid rain to actually make any difference," Neal said.

"The fires burned very deep into the soil, into the ground."

The fire on Terrace Mountain doubled in size overnight to 40 square kilometres.

In comparison, the Glenrosa fire that forced 10,000 people from their homes is three square kilometres and the Rose Valley blaze that led another 1,250 to flee is one square kilometre. Both fires are 100 per cent contained.

The same can't be said for the Terrace Mountain blaze.

"The Terrace Mountain fire is termed out of control," Neal said.

Two days after a B.C. Forest Service official said the rural Terrace Mountain blaze was the lowest priority of the three fires, because of its distance from homes and communities, Neal disputed any suggestion crews didn't do enough to attack the fire.

"The fires up at Terrace Mountain are inaccessible," he said.

"We could not put crews into that fire because we didn't have any escape routes or anchor points."

While Thursday's rain was welcome but it was preceded by dry lightning that started several small fires in the Okanagan.

Fintry resident Sean Corlett was among those worried about his home.

"My house is in Upper Fintry, near the very back," said Corlett, who is on day parole in Abbotsford but was given permission to return to his home.

"It's probably one of the first ones that will get hit if the fire comes down ... It's all I got."

Corlett said he packed up photos and other valuables upon hearing of the evacuation order.

Gerald Selin was visiting his daughter from Saskatoon when the family received the bad news. He said they were on the road within half an hour.

"My daughter's a little bit upset," Selin said. "You never know what's going to happen."

Forest service spokesman Jerry Wearing said the massive growth of the fire overnight could be explained by a couple of factors, including very dry fuel and very low humidity.

Bruce Smith, with the regional district's emergency operations centre, said Thursday's evacuation order was smoothly executed.

"Things have been going excellent," he said. "People have been very receptive. I think the advanced notice that they received yesterday of the alert assisted."

RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk agreed, but said there were some hiccups along the way.

"We began encountering by land and by waterfront, people trying to re-enter the area," he said.

"That included members of the public and not necessarily outright residents that were found in the restricted area."

RCMP are investigating 10 complaints of break and enter that appear to have taken place while evacuation orders were in effect in West Kelowna.

Three houses and a mobile home have been destroyed by the three fires.

As for when evacuees might be able to return home, Smith said it's far too early to say.

"We assess that day to day," he said.

"Trying to put a timeline when they get back is like trying to pin jelly to the wall."

Also Thursday, B.C. Forests Minister Pat Bell announced firefighters from Ontario and New Brunswick will be helping fight the forest fires.

"We're taking advantage of the resource-sharing agreement we have with other provinces and asking for additional crews," the minister said in a news release.

He said by noon Friday, fire bans will be in place across the province.

"We ask the public to remain vigilant at all times to reduce the number of human-caused fires, which divert our resources."

Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.


Michele said...

Hi! I came over from My Year Without Spending's Blog.
I just wanted to say that I know exacly how you feel with all of the fires in your area. I live in Montana and we have had some really bad fires in our area, too. This year we seem to (so far) have a reprieve from them. Last year and the year before I watched fires crest the mountains and could see the fires at night glowing red and orange on the mountainsides. Very scary.
I hope you get some much needed rain in your area soon!
BTW, you looked great in your Thrifty Finds photo, and congrats on quitting smoking!

hiptobeme said...

Thanks Michele for your encouraging words. I feel so much better for having quit, even with the extra junk in my proverbial trunk :) Whta the heck if a home made cookie gets me through for the moment so be it. there are worse things I could do. As for the fires, the town is set up to aid evacuees and today there was less of a panic and more of a feeling of doing what needs to be done. We are safe in our town and the smoke has shifted so it is easier to have some perspective. The Man did buy some extra supplies, just to make me feel better, and it worked. Having can goods and water and a plan makes me feel better. So I have decided there is nothing I can more I can do but live in the present and help out wherever I can.