EDITORIAL – Why we need to blame ourselves more for wildfire havoc

(Image: BC Wildfire Service)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

HOW QUICKLY fire season comes around. No sooner has the chilly weather of winter and early spring vacated the premises, than wildfires are upon us and the first evacuation alerts have been issued in rural areas.

Certainly, we can blame climate change and the weather in general for much of it, but fact is that 40 per cent of wildfires in this province are human caused.

That’s massive. If we would only stop careless open burning, tossing lighted cigarettes, and end other common human activity that leads to fires, we could save millions of dollars and thousands of hectares of forest.

We’ve learned some tough lessons, including the fact the wildfires don’t strike only out in the woods where there’s little population. Cities are in danger, too, as we found out with the near miss at Juniper Ridge. And, as Fort Mac tragically experienced a few years ago.

But whether it be wildfires or structural fires, we’ve also discovered that Fire Smarting our homes isn’t only for protection against giant walls of flame descending on us from the forests.

The fire on Gleneagles Drive  is believed to have started in a grassy area and spread to a cedar hedge; from there, it quickly enveloped and destroyed a house.

A Kamloops Fire Rescue post on Facebook offered a short lecture on the dangers of planting cedar close to houses. It was, I thought, somewhat harsh given that someone had just lost their home and possessions, and the post was soon removed.

It was, though, an example of the frustration firefighters must feel at seeing such unnecessary devastation. It’s notable, as well, that several of the suspected arsons around town have involved groupings of dry junipers.

So, the message is that we have to be prepared and not give Mother Nature the advantage this time of year. She’s very good at causing havoc all on her own, without us helping her.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He has served as mayor of Kamloops, school board chair and TNRD director, and is a retired daily newspaper editor. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9634 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on EDITORIAL – Why we need to blame ourselves more for wildfire havoc

  1. Just as a footnote to your commentary …

    I have yet to hear anything back from the City on the extreme fire hazzard issue on their property along the south side of Qu’Appelle between the top of Highland Road to just past Juniper Ridge Park.

    My email regarding this concern was sent a week ago, and also forwarded to them by Councillor Bepple

  2. The fire in Strathcona Park is believed to have been started by human activity in a grassy area and spread to a cedar hedge; from there, it quickly enveloped and destroyed a house.
    Sorry but that is grandly incorrect. The fire in Starthcona Park did not destroy a house. The house was destroyed on Gleneagles Drive right beside a cedar hedge which was set ablaze.

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