Monday, August 18, 2008

Not-So-Good Anniversary

Five years ago today, I started a post with this sentence:
"Okanagan Mountain Park is on fire."
That was a bizarre few weeks, watching the fire rage closer to Kelowna, forcing a huge evacuation and eventually sweeping into my parents' neighbourhood with 70km/h winds pushing a wall of fire. We didn't know if my folks' house would survive that night (the yellow circle in the photo above was their house). A week later, they returned to their house (w/photos) to find charred holes where their neighbours' houses had been.

The whole thing was traumatic. Since then, we've had parts of every summer when the smoke from surrounding fires blows in and stinks up the valley -- water bombers fly over, helicopters dragging buckets -- and it always recalls the feeling of being in a war zone, under attack by a powerful force. I still grieve the loss of many special places that burned, and have never gone back to ride the Crawford trail system since it was mostly incinerated. I've also realized that our move to Summerland was at least partially motivated by Kelowna becoming sort of damaged goods in my mind.

It sounds like there were some lessons learned about how to fight these fires, but it still feels like a real danger here in the heat of summer. Just on Sunday, we watched lightning fires start across the lake again.

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