British Columbia is having a very bad year for forest fires. People have lost homes and property, a whole town is gone, several lives have been lost. Thousands more have had to flee their homes and businesses as the flames advance, not knowing if anything will be left when the fires are out.
My woes are not on that scale, they hardly bear mentioning at all in the face of such tragedy. Yet the smoke from those fires are having an effect on people a thousand kilometres east of the fires. The smoke has hung in the air for weeks, we have breathed the resinous smoke of burning conifers and it does carry health risks for those who are allergy prone, elderly or immune impaired.
There have been frequent air quality warnings. I’m sure many people are more seriously affected than I am; all I have is some allergic reaction in my sinuses and my eyes. That is treatable, yet those effects will persist as long as the smoke does.
Are forest fires preventable? No. Sixty percent of forest fires are caused by lightning, others by activities that would not be problematic in ideal circumstances and only a small percentage by outright carelessness.
Lets not fall into the trap of trying to find someone to blame for forest fires. Wood burns. If we enjoy the beautiful side of forests we need to accept that occasionally there will be an ugly side. Can the effects of forest fires be mitigated by better forest management and increased safety measures? Certainly greater efforts can be, and no doubt will be, made in these areas.