British Columbia, Canada, and parts of Alberta have been experiencing the most intense fire season in history.  California is having a horrendous fire season as well, with over 8,000 people fleeing in the scorching heat, although fortunately there have been no reported civilian casualties in any fire.  At least 10 structures were destroyed in that blaze.  Days later, 11,000 people were forced to flee in BC.   Both BC and Alberta have issued fire bans because of tinderbox conditions.  Campfires are only allowed in approved locations, and ATVs are banned altogether.  Humans have caused about half the fires in BC and Alberta, but the other half of almost 930 fires BC has seen since April was caused by lightning.  
One fire burning near Highway 93, a popular highway known for its wildlife and leading to hotspots like Radium Hot Springs and Invermere, has already scorched over 130 sq. km. (50.19 sq. mi).  Many livestock animals live in that region and are kept behind wooden fences, many of which are burning and replacing these fences and relocating live stock alone are costing the province over $6 million.  Firefighters from as far away as Australia are being called in to fight the raging infernos.  This all adds up to a massive bill for the BC and Alberta governments.  In Montana, a dozen homes were destroyed in a monstrous blaze that cost a volunteer inmate firefighter his life.  Whatever his debt to society was, it is fair to say it was decisively paid.
A heatwave has sprung up parts of Europe and has killed at least two people.  The heat is so intense that the heat wave has been named Lucifer.  The peak temperature was 39ºC (102.2ºF).  In Spain, there were punishing temperatures peaking 44ºC (112ºF).  In Serbia, train routes were delayed as the tracks buckled from the heat.  In BC last week, temperatures hit 37ºC(98.6ºF).  While not as extreme as Lucifer, its constancy is not only responsible for the out of control conflagrations, but also for extremely high health risks due to air quality.  Smoke from forest fires can cause or exacerbate heart and lung diseases.  Alberta, Calgary in particular, has not been much better, with the mercury rising as high as 30ºC more than 6 times.  That is three times the average, and some of those days hit 37ºC(i8.6ºF) too.  Keep in mind that these temperatures are without the humidex.  The heat is one reason the fire season in Western Canada and America is so intense.  Hot weather lowers the amount of heat that fuel needs to burn, so the fuel is ignited more easily which means it starts more easily and spreads more easily.  There has also been very little rain, leaving Alberta and BC in drought.  In fact, Kelowna, BC, the wine growing region is in its third longest drought in recorded history.  Overall, this has been a historic, tragic fire season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *