If there were questions about the vulnerability of our backcountry to fire, Saturday provided a stark answer.
Residents living near Harrison Lake – from hotel guests to cabin owners on Long Island – noticed an eerie light coming from the eastern shore. With tinder-dry conditions and building winds, it was soon evident that a wildfire had taken hold.
Video from the scene Saturday night shows the speed of the destruction. What was initially reported as a six-hectare fire by the BC Wildfire Service had grown to 50 hectares by Tuesday, with no containment.
The fact that the fire threatens no homes or buildings is a relief.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not doing any damage. Yet another backcountry spot, popular with off-roaders and campers, will show the scars of this, the worst fire season on record. It has injured or displaced wildlife and damaged their habitat.
But more, the fire is also taking away resources and further exhausting already over-worked and over-stretched firefighters.
And for no reason.
This latest fire, like the one still burning at the north end of Harrison Lake, was caused by people.
Whether by campfire, or by target practice and hot shell casings, the fire didn’t have to happen.
It wasn’t lightning, or some other natural event.
It was simple carelessness.
And for that, there is no excuse. It’s not like we’re unaware of the fire risks. The ground crunches underfoot; dust rises with every step. Conditions are so volatile in some parts of the province that the backcountry has been closed to recreationalists.
That hasn’t happened here. But with no rain in the forecast, some may begin to ask why not.