Saturday 3 June 2023

Fire and Rain

 Hello, people.

If you follow world news, you may already know about the wildfires in Canada.

Alberta has been burning for weeks now. Current status can be found here.

There are also fires in five other provinces and one territory.

One of those provinces is mine. Last week, Nova Scotia became the location of two major fires, one of which is the largest in its history. That fire is located near Shelburne, at the southern tip of the province, and has resulted in the displacement of over 1,000 people. The other is near the heavily populated capital, Halifax, in the centre of the province, where over 16,000 people have had to leave their homes.

Over 200 structures have burned, including more than 150 family homes. Many of the evacuees had to leave immediately because the fire was so close. They had no time to take anything with them.

How stressful that would be. And for those whose homes burned to ash, how stressful that would be also. Even those who were put on alert that they could be evacuated on short notice must be stressed. My son lives on the edge of the evacuation zone, and was one of that group.

Fortunately, no lives have been lost.

And tonight - finally, finally, finally - the rain has started. It's hardly more than a sprinkle so far, but the forecast predicts rain or showers and cool temperatures for the next week.

I've never been so grateful to see a week of rain in the forecast.

And I am beyond grateful for the efforts of the firefighters and other emergency personnel who have worked so hard to save lives, homes, and livelihoods, in some cases doing so while their own homes burned down. Nova Scotian firefighters have been, or soon will be, joined by others from across Canada, from the U.S., Costa Rica, Australia, and New Zealand. I'm so thankful for international help. 

My heart is with those who have lost everything except their lives, those who have had to leave their homes not knowing if they will lose everything or not, and those in areas adjacent to the evacuation zone who have spent the last week in a state of heightened adrenaline in case they had to leave suddenly. I am also so sad for the wildlife which has undoubtedly been killed, maimed, and displaced. 

Even after the current fires are under control, there will be a lot of work to be done to extinguish them. Last fall's hurricane Fiona, which I wrote about here, left so much deadwood from downed trees all across our heavily forested province. It has had eight months to dry out, and, in an unusually dry spring, it has become perfect tinder for fires. 

I know we are far from the only place to suffer wildfires. They are becoming more and more common around the world due to climate change. It's simply extra-sobering when they hit close to home.

And now, for your listening enjoyment, the song you may have thought I was referencing in the title.

Because we need to keep on moving forward, and one way to do so is finding the beauty in life (thank you, my dear friend, Elephant's Child, for that wisdom).

And music is one of the beautiful things in life. Even when it's kind of sad music.


Elephant's Child said...

My heart goes out everyone affected by the fires. They trigger memories of heart breaking times.
The lyrics to that song tug at my heartstrings too.
I hope you find some beauty each and every day dear friend.

dinthebeast said...

Music is one thing that gets me through the difficulties reliably.
Wildfire season is running a little late around here as the higher elevations are still covered with snow. All of that water, though, has fed the vegetation like it hasn't seen in a decade, and when the temps go up, all of that vegetation becomes potential fuel.
We are in what Cal Fire calls "the gap" between the 2020 Creek fire burn scar and the 2017 Railroad fire burn scar, and the danger is that if we burn, it will be decades' worth of accumulated fuel and dead standing timber (bark beetles and climate change) that they will have to contend with. So they have been doing some "forest management" around here. Read that, there have been crews cutting brush and dead trees and stacking the wood in piles on both sides of the road on the way out of this valley. The stacks of wood look like giant campfires to me, but I suppose they know what they are doing.
I remember back in 2020 when the Creek fire was four ridges over from us and the largest contiguous wildfire in California history at the time, the smoke was oppressive and you checked the latest maps on Inciweb first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. We've been lucky so far.
Next year, though, we'll be in Humboldt County, where the fire danger isn't as dire, at least so far.
During the Creek fire, bears and mountain lions were displaced from their territories and came through here on their way to I don't know where. It was a scary time for the cat...

-Doug in Sugar Pine

jabblog said...

Wildfires are terrifying and I really feel for those who have to evacuate at speed, not knowing whether they'll have a home to return to. Life then is pared to the bone, with gratitude for life itself. What more can Nature do to convince us that we are ruining this world and need to change our ways?

Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

When I read news like these I just HATE the Danish news agencies. Our news are filled up with Uraine, sports and insignificant tid-bits about local politicians and stars. I never heard of all these Canadian fires before today.
News from Canada in Danish media: Canada has decided to print cancer-warnings on individual cigarettes, and sports! Only by searching for Canada and fires, I found one small notice.

I feel with you and all the victims. I cannot imagine how it feels to be close to fires like these, but fires are always scaring and totally intimidating.

River said...

I heard about your fires via TV news and hope the rains pour down steadily until all fires are out. I hope the government helps those who have lost everything too, they need assistance to recover and start over.

Mike said...

You would think that lumber companies would be in there trying to salvage as many downed trees as they could.

Anonymous said...

How awful for you and your country. I live in Australia so you would know that it’s a common occurrence here, we seem to have extremes here, flooding then bushfires. So heartbreaking for you all and the wildlife. Marie, Melbourne, Australia

Marie Smith said...

We feel the same about the forecast. Glad to see rain. It is cold today too. Better than that 30 degrees we had two days ago. The conditions for firefighting at 30 must be horrendous. Fiona didn’t help, that’s for sure. We are the same here, dead wood everywhere! That may come across not as I meant it. Lol.

Hope your son stays safe and you too!

Steve Reed said...

I'd heard about the fires in Alberta, but not in Nova Scotia! That must be very unusual. I always think of your part of Canada as being so damp. At any rate I'm glad you're OK and glad for even a little bit of rain.

Diane Henders said...

What a scary and stressful time - I'm glad to hear you and your son are okay. We've had a month of drought already here. We're surrounded by forest, so unless we get some rain it'll be another worrisome summer of sniffing the air and hoping not to smell smoke.

Joanne Noragon said...

I wonder if this is a good time to be alive. But, was there ever a great time to be alive. I hope you get a lot of rain!

Andrew said...

My firefighter nephew has been asked to travel to Canada for a month to assist. While extremely well paid, with a three year old and twins a year old, he is not jumping into it.

Yes, we know all about fire, including out of control wildfires.

DB Stewart said...

After life in Alberta during May, I have been following the NS wildfires closely. So happy to hear about your rain. In 2019 my community was on evacuation alert for almost a month. So grateful for firefighters across the country.

kylie said...

As Steve said, I think of Canada as fire-proof so it's a shock when something like this happens. It's a very big deal, very traumatic. And seemingly never ending.
I'm so glad you have rain forecast

e said...

That is so stressful and devastating. I hope the rain helps and there is no loss of life among the firefighters. Animal and habitat loss can be terrible. From what you report, the humans have been more fortunate. I hope that holds. In am glad you are okay.

Mr. Shife said...

We were getting some of the smoke from the Alberta fire not too long ago. I was surprised that there were so many massive fires in Canada at this time of year but, after reading your update, it makes a lot more sense. I hope the rains help so people can get to rebuilding their lives, which sounds so devastating. Thinking of them and hoping for the best. Take care, jenny_o.

baili said...

i read this with heavy heart getting heavier with each next line dear Jenney !

i am sorry that i am not following any kind of news since more than one year except hubby shares with me from his social media .

the situation you mentioned has gripped me with terror and sadness my friend . you may not believe that i see your exceptionally beautiful part of land in movies only and i love them for their glory and astonishing natural beauty that invites one instantly .it is sad to know that not only that natural beauty is becoming target of wildfires but so many people have to leave their homes !
i really wish ,hope and pray that may this all end soon as you mentioned the rain which most probably might have put off the fires already .

thank you for the lovely song ,it felt captivating indeed.
music is powerful and transforming thing indeed and it has helped me throughout my life in rediscovering myself and surviving odds .
thinking of you with heart full of prays!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny, it’s me, Chicken-been thinking about you. We can smell the fires in RI, which seems surreal to me. I’m glad to hear you are ok (and your son). If there’s a way for us to help, let me know

Anonymous said...

Hi Doug, Chicken here, checking im

jenny_o said...

Elephant's Child: I thought of Australia's fires many times in the last week. Your country has suffered so much. Thank you for the good wishes. I do indeed find beauty every day. Your practice has become mine, and changed my life for the better. Hugs, my friend.

Doug: It has to be worrying to be in the middle of so much fire tinder. Hopefully those bonfire piles are scheduled to be removed, not left beside the corridor to safety. I don't understand it otherwise. Fires are so hard on wildlife too. It must have been spooky to see large animals passing through. When do you move? It will be good to be away from fire country. (PS - Chicken says Hi at the bottom of the comments!)

jabblog: I agree. But it seems humans have an extraordinary capacity for denial. I bet that there are some people who lose everything in fires or floods or hurricanes who will still keep denying there is such a thing as climate change.

Charlotte: That is curious, isn't it, that it was hard for you to find news of the fires. That being said, we don't get much news about Denmark here, either! You're right about fires being scary and intimidating. They can be so unpredictable and move so fast.

River: The rain has been fairly steady and helped a lot. Now the authorities say it would be best if the rain stopped so they can send in aircraft and crews to check the ground where fire might have gone underground. There is indeed some assistance already approved and out to those who were displaced and businesses who had to shut down, and a promise of more for those who lost everything. And hopefully insurance companies will work as fast as possible to process claims. There are also volunteer organizations like the United Way and SPCA who are helping people and pets and farm animals. I feel bad for wildlife; they are at the bottom of the list, it seems, but they had to have suffered a lot.

Mike: I could be wrong, but it's my impression from what I have read that the trees which came down in the hurricane were primarily older trees unsuitable for anything but chips. Our forests are a mixture of softwood which is generally made into pulp products, and hardwood like poplar which doesn't grow big enough in circumference to be milled. I'm still shocked when I drive anywhere how many trees came down. Beside the highway there are places where all the trees for thousands of feet are just flattened.

Marie: Welcome, and thank you for commenting. I remember reading about Australia's fires and floods and it does seem you have had very extreme weather the last few years. It's scary, isn't it?

Marie: LOL :) I knew what you meant. I hope the rain has helped on the Island as it has here. It has been a good drenching rain the past few days.

Steve: We've always had occasional dry summers. I can remember my friend's family, who used a well, and who had to be so careful with water usage some years, even when I was a kid. But the summers have been getting drier and drier, and with the amount of woodland we have, it was probably just a matter of time before we had out-of-control fires. We've had a good amount of rain the past few days, and that has helped.

jenny_o said...

Diane: I read in today's news that authorities in BC are warning people all over the province to be prepared for possible evacuations because it's a matter of "when, not if" there are fires. That can't be good to hear. It IS stressful, as you know so well. I hope you stay safe there.

Joanne: I've always felt that those of us who grew up in the 50s, 60s and 70s may have had it the best - all of us baby boomers enjoyed the calm after WWII and were already in jobs by the economic upheaval of the 80s. Of course, there was difficult stuff happening around the world in those decades, but these days it seems the bad news is coming from everywhere, including close to home. Climate change is the big one, in my opinion. Everything else hinges on whether we can effectively slow it enough.

Andrew: I'm glad your nephew considered his family first and made a decision based on that. A month is a long separation with little ones. I know Australia has gone through far worse than we are having here. My heart ached for the loss of life in your fires and floods.

DB Stewart: You are well acquainted with the situation. Can one ever get used to the threat of evacuation with little warning? I think it would cause many people PTSD, to be honest. Stay safe there.

kylie: As I said to Steve, we have had fires before. It's just that our summers are getting so much more dry in general, and in the case of one of these fires it was close to a very populated centre and could have had a far worse outcome. The rain has been plentiful here all week and that is a relief.

e: Thank you, and you're right, it must be incredibly stressful for those affected. There was no loss of life that authorities know of, and only a few injuries among firefighters. I try to imagine facing a wildfire and can't really wrap my head around how dangerous and frightening it must be. I feel for the wildlife. Even those animals that escaped are now without their homes too.

Mr. Shife: I read today that there were air quality warnings across several U.S. states from the Nova Scotia fires, which is amazing to me. We've had some very good rainfall, which has helped with one of the fires especially. Thanks for your good wishes, Mr. S.

baili: Thank you, as always, for your heartfelt comments and wishes. The rain has helped quite a bit although one fire is still considered out of control. It could be worse, if we had not received rain. I worry about what will come later in the summer, as the temperatures rise and things dry out again. We have so much woodland here. Hugs, my friend! Take care. I am reading about political turmoil in your country and hope it settles down without further deterioration.

Chicken: Thank you for that kind offer! We are fine but there are so many who lost their homes. Nova Scotia is having a housing crisis to begin with, as we've had a lot of immigration over the past few years. Now it's going to be even worse. There has been some talk of bringing in modular homes. I feel for those whose lives have been completely upended. As one newsperson mentioned today, they've lost not just their homes and belongings, but their neighbourhoods too - the folks they've known for years and socialized with and depended on. I read today about the air quality being affected in RI. Hard to believe enough smoke could travel so far as to affect the air that much.

dinthebeast said...

Hi Chicken, hope all is well with you.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

Haddock said...

It is very sad to read about the loss of property(and life). Do I still hear people saying that there is no climate change?