Nice weather, but…

Nice weather around here lately, but we really need some rain!
Of course the day this paper comes out is the seven-year anniversary of the day a wildfire blew into Slave Lake and another one got into Widewater and Canyon Creek. There are a lot of similarities between this spring and that one: heavy snow that had people worried about flooding, for one. For another, the snow disappeared quickly, to be replaced by a dry spring. The big wind from the southeast remains to be seen. But the biggest difference is that there’s a lot less fuel close to those communities, thanks to so much of it burning in 2011. Also thanks to so much of what wasn’t burnt that year being cleared up by various FireSmart projects in the intervening years. That continues, and it includes extensive hazard-reduction burning, which has been going on over the past few weeks. Tons of dead and fallen timber have been removed from in and around communities.

However, there’s still a lot to be done, even in the public areas that the town and M.D. can control. When it comes to private property, the only ones with control are the owners, and some are a lot better at hazard–reduction than others.

Wildfire seems a remote possibility – until the embers start falling on a hot and windy day. That’s when you suddenly realize that bark mulch in your flower bed up next to your vinyl siding wasn’t such a good idea after all. And maybe you should have cleared out the dead leaves under your deck, not to mention out of your eaves troughs.

No kidding; in 2011 house fires started in exactly those ways.

The roar of water bombers arrived in Slave Lake last week for the first time in 2018. There are still people that get nervous when they hear it. That and sirens when the spring weather turns warm and windy. There’s no reason to panic, but there’s plenty of reason to take reasonable measures to reduce the hazard, property by property by property.

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