When I was evacuated, I decided to stay as long as possible to try and continue to provide the best coverage I could provide.
I felt a sense of duty, even if that meant living and working in very smoky conditions and potentially being in danger.
If nothing else, I lived right on the edge of the order area and it wasn’t 100 per cent clear whether or not it did or didn’t include my house.
My in-laws, being “stubborn farmers,” also stayed behind.
It wasn’t long before I was forced to evacuate anyways due to road closures leaving me unable to get home.
The events of the last week have lead me to reflect a bit on my decision. Driving through the Interlakes area on several occasions has been unpleasant at best.
The smoke was incredibly thick and I think gave both me and my wife headaches as well as several other minor ailments in a matter of no time and we’re both young, healthy people.
Secondly, the growth of the Elephant Hill fire this week has been a tremendously scary thing. Now they may not be able to get accurate mapping every single day due to the smoke, but nonetheless, it’s very clear how rapidly it grew.
On the Aug. 11, the fire perimeter map listed the fire at 124,843 hectares. On the Aug. 13 fire perimeter map, it’s listed at 168,092 hectares.
Regardless of whether this growth occurred in 24, 48 or 72 hours, that’s an astounding growth rate. To put it in perspective, that growth is about 7.6 times the total size of the Gustafsen fire.
My intent is not to cause despair to those with homes, cabins or property in the area. Rather, I’m trying to make it as explicitly clear as possible how much danger you’re putting yourself in if you’re staying in the evacuation order zone, given how dry it is.
I say this while also believing that the “stubborn ranchers” who stayed behind have saved homes, property, animals, in addition to making sure to such things as livestock having water.
It’s been an incredibly disruptive fire season. Yet so far, despite some close calls such as a helicopter crashing while fighting fire in the Chilcotin and heroic efforts by wildfire firefighters, structural firefighters, ranchers and others involved in the effort, we’ve not lost any lives. Let’s try and keep it that way.
Despite the destruction these fires have caused, not losing any lives is still a victory and something to be proud of at the end of the fire season.