Last year was exceptional

The weekly editorial for the 100 Mile Free Press

Understandably, people have been a bit on edge whenever smoke has been visible in recent weeks such as from burning.

However, it’s important to remember that we’re not in the same situation as when the fires broke out last year.

If you drive around you can’t really miss that the grass is quite green in most places, the aspen trees similarly have green leaves and there are plenty of green shoots coming up.

When the fires started last year, everything was extremely dry and the fire danger rating was at extreme. Currently, things are still quite wet, with many places dealing with flooding and the fire danger rating is at low.

Given these conditions, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see the kind of fire activity we saw last summer right now. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be vigilant. We should absolutely be vigilant and make sure to report it when we do see a fire.

It also doesn’t mean we won’t eventually get to forest conditions similar to last year.

However, if two years ago, we’d seen a small plume of smoke with the current levels of moisture, while many may have reported it few would have spent ant time really worrying about it.

Even though the experts have told us we should expect more fire activity than we’ve seen in the past, it’s also worthwhile remembering that 2017 was still quite an exceptional year, with the largest amount of hectares burned and the longest state of emergency in the province’s history among other things.

For many of us, it was quite a traumatic experience. I was lucky and didn’t lose anything to the fire and can only imagine what the people who did lose a home went through. However, even if as experts predict there will be an increase in wildfire activity, the extent of last summer’s fires may well be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most.

You may also be able to get some peace of mind from the fact that since last year fire mitigation work has been undertaken, such as in the forest around the 108 and expected to be undertaken in the 100 Mile woodlot and community forest.

If you’re feeling stressed or panicky all of these things are well worth remembering and if you are feeling anxious it’s also worth remembering that there is help available to help you cope with that.

Last year the whole Cariboo showed incredible resilience with what the area faced. Let’s make sure that we continue that trend going forward.

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