An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THIS SHOULD BE AN EASY wildfire season compared to those of the past.
Why? Because more than half — 54 per cent to be exact — of all wildfires in B.C. last year were caused by humans.
So, with everybody staying at home this year, there should be a lot fewer fires.
Yet, as of yesterday, all six wildfires in the Kamloops Fire Centre, including one near Chase, have been human-caused.
Details of exactly how they started are scarce and we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. We humans are very creative about how we start wildfires. It often has nothing to do with unattended campfires, for example, though that’s a common cause.
It doesn’t take a group of people ignoring a closure to cause a fire. It could be somebody doing the traditional spring burn of grass and weeds in their back 40, a passing train or just a carelessly flipped cigarette.
Remember the devastating McLure wildfire of 2003? It started with a discarded cigarette. The resulting fire raged for more than two months, cost tens of millions to fight and millions in property damage. Thousands had to be evacuated.
The massive Elephant Hill wildfire of 2017 dwarfed the McLure fire in size, cost and property loss. It, too, was human-caused. Fueled by climate change and ignited by human stupidity, it’s the same situation from Fort McMurray to California and Australia.
An open-burning ban comes into effect Thursday and, hopefully, it will do some good but we’ll always find other, creative ways of burning down our forests.
Between wildfires, floods and a pandemic, this could be a summer to remember, and not in a good way. Just think how much easier it would be if we’d smarten up about those fires.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.