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Tim Horton 07-10-2017 02:54 PM

Forest Fire 2017
 
A bit over a week ago we had some of the hottest days of summer we usually have. Problem with that is this year the bush went very quickly to late August dry and brown before the first of July. Fire danger went to extreme very quickly.

Sure enough the first Sunday of July the area got scattered thunderstorms and lightning. And of course lightning fires. The worst in this area seems to be about 250 kilometers from us, just on the far side of where Mother-in-law lives. Bad enough that her power has been out sporadically for a week now as they battle flames. Wind changes and such have made the fire close the road on the far side of MIL. Burning the asphalt to black gravel. in places.

MIL is actually on the other side of the long slender lake from the fire. MIL and Wildcats aunt have been poised to evacuate to our place with there livestock all this time. Everything depends on the fire and road closures and other restrictions by authorities.

Being life long "bush people" they are doing quite well with hand pump water well, small generator, out house and there preps.

We are ready with housing for them and one of there neighbors plus livestock if they do need to leave. So far only a small area has been ordered evacuated. Some bigger ranchers in there area have elected to stay with there livestock having made preps with plowed fire breaks, using irrigation equipment to sprinkle where needed, and providing DNA swabs.. Some have been through this before.

Life in the bush..

Doninalaska 07-10-2017 07:23 PM

We went through that last year, and we had a big fire in 1996. We had livestock and sled dogs to move; the livestock and the wife, daughter and two sons went with the livestock to one location, while the dogs, one son and one daughter went to another location. One son and myself stayed with the place to try to protect it and prevent looting. The power was off due to the fire, so we had battery-powered lights and radio, bottled drinking water and water from the lake for washing and flushing. We communicated via ham radio since the phones were problematic, and all the folks who relied on cell phones found out quickly that they don't work when the phone system is down (that seems to be where they got their power for the most part-from the low-voltage telephone lines)...some may on solar now, but I don't know. I know the Yukon has a wonderful repeater setup for two meters, but I know little about B.C. If where you are is set up like the Yukon, it would be worth your while to be in m radio.

Good luck with the fire response. I dread the fire season every year. My advice would be to move the livestock to your place as soon as convenient, as moving animals when everyone is trying to evacuate is problematic.

Jjr 07-11-2017 03:28 PM

Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Flooding & Droughts are all problems we have to contends with years in and year out, but thankfully Forest Fires, are a real rarity down here. We do have grass fires and occasionally a small fire will break out to burn a few acres before it is contained, but a true Forest Fire is not something that really gives us much trouble. But considering the fact this entire state could be placed in the middle of some of your forests it is not that difficult to understand why a Forest Fire is low on the list of priorities we try and prepare for.

They can be a real disaster for those in their path, and I hope the fire fighters get it under control quickly before it can damage any farms, ranches, homes or communities.

Tim Horton 07-11-2017 08:24 PM

Latest update from news and MIL is that things are "static" I believe was the term used. Meaning not better, but not worse.

A couple small towns and villages near MIL are totally empty of people. Just RCMP patrols. People evacuated are being housed at the local university and provincial college buildings and dorms.

A real problem has been a couple large "sub stations" for telephone, internet and such as that... Trouble keeping fuel and portable irrigation sprinklers going for the banks of big Caterpillar generators that sustain them. Hydro (Provincial power company) has crews and material stockpiled to replace a couple hundred kilometers of grid that needs replaced. Not counting how much service lines.

Hot, dry, but calm winds so forestry has been able to back fire some fire breaks a kilometer wide and how long in places that will free equipment and man power for other places. Big 4 engine water bombers the size of C130s, but not C130s, are every 10 minutes or so in and out of our airport as other airports and fuel is not available. Baby steps maybe, but progress none the less..

Here in our part of the bush we are still prepared to accept 5-6 people and a dozen or so head of live stock as needed.

Doninalaska 07-11-2017 10:20 PM

We're certainly thinking of you and the MIL!

Tim Horton 07-14-2017 03:01 AM

Update from MIL.. They have power for the last day and half or so. Reports are everything is static. Back fire in there area went well the reports say. So they are still on "stand by"

Reports coming through of the 5-6 communities that are any where from total evacuated to some portion of partial evacuation there have been a dozen or more looters other thieves caught so far.

RCMP went to the nearest First Nations (Indian) reservation community to advise evacuation.. About 300 or so people.. They refused to evacuate or cooperate in any way. Cops said they would put up a road block to the area to keep people out of more dangerous areas.. Tribal leaders said they would put up road blocks next to the cop road blocks. And to expect "resistance" if anyone crossed.. They have done this before when there was fire danger. It is said hoping to burn the community housing and get new housing it is said. Not wise in my opinion, but there decision..

Our part of the bush has been cooler with smoke haze, overcast, and an afternoon rain shower of 6 to 15 mm for the last 3 days now.

Doninalaska 07-14-2017 07:09 AM

[QUOTE=Tim Horton;433090]Update from MIL.. They have power for the last day and half or so. Reports are everything is static. Back fire in there area went well the reports say. So they are still on "stand by"

Reports coming through of the 5-6 communities that are any where from total evacuated to some portion of partial evacuation there have been a dozen or more looters other thieves caught so far.

RCMP went to the nearest First Nations (Indian) reservation community to advise evacuation.. About 300 or so people.. They refused to evacuate or cooperate in any way. Cops said they would put up a road block to the area to keep people out of more dangerous areas.. Tribal leaders said they would put up road blocks next to the cop road blocks. And to expect "resistance" if anyone crossed.. They have done this before when there was fire danger. It is said hoping to burn the community housing and get new housing it is said. Not wise in my opinion, but there decision..

Our part of the bush has been cooler with smoke haze, overcast, and an afternoon rain shower of 6 to 15 mm for the last 3 days now.[/QUOTE]

I saw that there were 16,000 folks evacuated in B.C. as of this evening. Alaska has sent a retardant tanker to help out. We are covered in smoky air from our own fires here. I was shocked when I went into town and couldn't see the mountains for the smoke. Good luck as the summer progresses--we'll be thinking about you.

Tim Horton 07-16-2017 04:58 PM

MIL and local news update.. Several more small communities are now under threat conditions. One community of about 12,000 is now totally evacuated. Very few structures there lost so far.

A light moment in all this issue.. A cop patrolling the empty town said someone forgot to turn off the automatic glass sliding doors at the ER entrance to the hospital. A herd of deer came through that part of town, one would activate the door, go in for a little while, and come out. Then the next one would do the same. Must have needed Tylenol I guess..

About the first 6,000 evacuees from the fire areas came to town here. Housed in the college and university dorms, and other areas set up for evacuees. Young woman from our area of the bush works for the city and was diverted to the university to log in people, resources etc. She said most of the number of people there are low income housing, homeless, and for a lack of better term, non-contributing, non-independent people. There have been a number of domestic issue fights, other fights, one stabbing and a large number of substance abuse related issues among this population so far.

Weather has been cooperative for fire fighters a few days now. One large ranch lost some out buildings and about 100 livestock. No people have been lost to my knowledge so far.

Tim Horton 07-21-2017 06:21 PM

Call from MIL and Aunt L. They are in the same holding pattern. The bend in the lake they are in has become some what of a sweet spot as everything goes around them so far. Somewhat constant smoke and some ash at times, but no other issues.

Power has been steady the last few days. They have a pump they are using out of the lake for stock water and sprinklers. Yard outside of sprinklers is late August brown, but under sprinklers needs mowed on a timely basis.

Some trucks are getting through to the local grocery store, gas station and such. Very little or no mail. At the regional township meeting forestry people are saying they predict even when most all returns to normal, there will be scattered issues is areas clear through late fall this year. Wild fire weed plants are starting to come up on some of the first areas that burned. The blossoms make wonderful jelly.

An army detachment has come into the area to relieve law enforcement for rest. They will take over for a weeks time from area to area.

Live stock and wild animals have started to be an issue in places as they have been a hazard on road ways that are open now, and roaming at large in places. SPCA, local ranchers, and local residents are doing what they can for displaced animals. There were several hundred household pets came with the displaced people that are housed in town here. Most owners are helping to care for there pets, some have been abandon here.

Some of the crime among evacuees has spilled out into the neighborhoods with car break ins and other issues. Patio furniture seems to be a vulnerable item.

doc 07-23-2017 05:25 PM

Thanks for the update. It's informative for those of us who've never had to experience such a problem.

I feel like I'm listening to Edward R. Murrow's war correspondent reports.

Tim Horton 07-25-2017 02:26 PM

Update from news and MIL.. Fire officials saying the southern end of whee the fires started are as much as 80-90% contained. A couple small communities on the far side of MIL are declared safe and open again. I imagine it will take some time for people and things to return to post event normal. Definitely not the normal before the fires.

Grocery, fuel, mail delivery and much of normal activity has resumed there. There is still kilometers of roads, power lines and such that need replaced or repair. A lot more roaming livestock than at first believed to be re homed.

Here in town the displaced population situation housed here hasn't changed much as yet. We know someone who works in security saying the rise in crime hasn't changed.

The reservation that put up barricades to keep fire fighters out lost 57 of 59 homes in that community. Directly lost to the forest fires ?? The make up of the displaces refugee population here in town ?? The most polite I can be about this is to let you put 2 and 2 together there.

To the best I know, no one lost life directly due to the fires. I'm sure there are those who suffered stress, event trauma issues.

MIL and Aunt L have returned to pretty much normal life, but report they can have the truck repacked in 10 minutes or less if needed.
====
Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite war correspondent reports. I haven't thought of that in God knows how many years.

Doninalaska 07-25-2017 05:24 PM

Glad to hear that things are resolving. Hope it continues.

doc 07-26-2017 08:43 AM

-also glad to hear things are normalizing.

Do you think the barricades at the reservation was part of a plan to get improved housing from insurance/govt? An example of Greek-Restuarant-Disease?

Tim Horton 07-27-2017 12:47 AM

When there was a fire somewhat near that area a couple or more years ago, the same people did the same response they did this time.. No structures were lost at that time, but this time there was. I'll leave it to you to do the math...

Problem I see is how, where, are the people going to be housed and maintained until something is done at the settlement.. For instance. Much of the cost for the temporary housing and other support here is on the city. Will there be federal repayment ? When ? A whole can of worms with all this that will take a long time to sort out.
==
Greek Restaurant disease...... Never heard of that term. I'm suspecting it is much the same as the term "Jewish Lightning" If I'm figuring it our correctly.

Doninalaska 07-27-2017 03:29 PM

[QUOTE=Tim Horton;433332]Problem I see is how, where, are the people going to be housed and maintained until something is done at the settlement.. For instance. Much of the cost for the temporary housing and other support here is on the city. Will there be federal repayment ? When ? A whole can of worms with all this that will take a long time to sort out.
==
.[/QUOTE]

Don't know how it will work in Canada, but when we had a bad fire here some years ago, we set up teams to go around and erect military tents for burned out folks. It gave them shelter until they could get something more permanent erected, though I think a number of people overwintered in their heavy-duty, insulated tents.

Tim Horton 07-28-2017 09:20 PM

MIL reports only one community along the major highway they use still has some restrictions on who, where people can go. So most of there shopping and support needs are back to near normal..

One issue that could end up being a real problem is many evacuees are/have been housed in college and university student housing. Classes are likely to be normally scheduled to start again in August. Potential for big issues unless something changes or is rescheduled. Will see.

CountryMom22 07-30-2017 04:04 PM

Glad to hear your MIL and Aunt didn't have to evacuate and that things are returning to the new normal. I was wondering about the start of classes. That could definitely be a problem. Hope the powers that be are working on that now.

Keep us posted.

Tim Horton 07-30-2017 11:34 PM

MIL reported seeing 10 or so tour type buses taking fire refugees home with RCMP escorts. That could be an maximum average of 70 people per bus.

One thing that was kind of a kick in the teeth.. Local paper ran a big article about the local hospital clinic systems and the number of teams (3 to 5 people) they had moving about the evacuee communitys to recognize and intervene (there word) with people having mental health and substance "issues"

They were quite vague about the numbers of encounters they dealt with among this population, but pretty much bragging about the job they did. There number of encounters is frankly a teaspoon in a bath tub compared to the number of documented issues security and police had to deal with in the community as a whole solely attributed to this population. The evacuee population being at most about 10% the size of the city population.

In a word, to me. This has been a bonafied SHTF event that could have been a lot worse in a thousand ways. And 99.9% of it went right over the heads of 99.9% of the local population that I can see.

It seemed unless people could see flames from there window, it was just another passed over headline.
The consequences of a truly devastating event make you wonder just how would people cope.

My 5 cents.

CountryMom22 07-31-2017 09:34 PM

Yeah, if it's not in their backyard, they aren't concerned. Even when you have a warning that trouble is coming, like with super storm Sandy, people didn't listen.

They all believe it won't happen to them, but if it does, the government will take care of us!

HA!

backlash 08-07-2017 01:40 AM

The smoke from those fires and all the fires in Washington is covering this area.
Haven't seen blue sky in over a week.
Hope everyone stays safe.


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