Fort McMurray wildfire

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6079_Smith_W

Soft pedal it though one might, this line of faulty reasoning about "someone who was only in the area because of the tar sands"  is really just another way of saying the people there did it to themselves, which is nonsense.

Aside from being baseless speculation. People are in that part of the country for all kinds of reasons.

Yes a great number of fires are human-caused, but unless you find specific evidence that's about as far as it goes. I don't recall this sort of speculation going on during the LaRonge fire last year that one of them must have done it.

If there is some specific reason why should be relevant here, I am curious what that is. Like I said, all I see is a not-so thinly veiled attempt to cast blame on that community.

 

 

Unionist

Well, it's so much fun engaging trolls.

But seriously - what intrigues me far more than what "caused" this particular fire (it was likely a train braking spark or campfire or some such) is this:

Why, in 2016, are we collectively incapable of either preventing or (it seems) even controlling such conflagrations??

And in this particular case: Does anyone know exactly what these army-size firefighting crews are doing? What's their precise objective, how are they mobilizing to accomplish it? And why are they (seemingly) failing miserably - just waiting for the weather to change or the fire to burn itself out?

I can't make my way through the "dramatic" news reports to get to the thrust of the matter.

I'm obviously no expert, but I surely would like some reading material on this subject.

Unionist

6079_Smith_W wrote:

As for these workers "failing miserably" we might want to consider how things would go differently if they were not there.

I really don't want to get into a "you're minimizing the efforts of the workers" squabble.

I really want to know why it is seemingly impossible to protect towns from fires. Like, stop them cold, before they invade populated areas. What would it take? Clear-cutting a certain radius?

I'm really trying to ask some simple basic questions.

 

 

6079_Smith_W

Hurtin would probably know the specifics, but again, some fires burn for weeks.

A reminder from last year:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/saskatchewan-wildfires-could-...

As for these workers "failing miserably" we might want to consider how things would go differently if they were not there. I know a lot of the effort here went into saving homes. And as has been pointed out, some fires simply cannot be extinguished without a change in weather.

Some fires - coal seams, and peat bogs (another possible cause, since there are plenty around which burn perennially) cannot be put out.

And this fire, now over 200,000 hectares, is getting close to some oilsand facilities.

http://business.financialpost.com/news/energy/oilsands-producers-declare...

 

6079_Smith_W

You have fires in your province, Unionist.

You know as well as I do that very often they cannot be extinguished, only managed.

And if you don't want me to misinterpret maybe don't use terms like "failing miserably" to describe the efforts of people who are working as hard as they can.

How many people have died in this fire?

If it was as simple as getting out the backhoe and cutting a firebreak, I expect it would probably have been done. Never mind that sparks fly for kilometres.

(edit)

Hurtin Albertan may have answered your question back at #30.

Unionist

6079_Smith_W wrote:

You have fires in your province, Unionist.

Oh, thanks, here I thought I was just insulting Albertans for being the only ones in the world incapable of controlling fires. Here I thought I was just asking a serious question about science and the limits of human ability to manage nature. Thanks for reminding me that this is about some vile childish squabble!

Quote:
You know as well as I do that very often they cannot be extinguished, only managed.

You can't read? Let me walk you through it. I'm not talking about "EXTINGUISHING" fires. I'm asking whether it's possible to prevent forest wildfires from invading populated areas. Got it? Yes? No? 

Quote:
And if you don't want me to misinterpret maybe don't use terms like "failing miserably" to describe the efforts of people who are working as hard as they can.

Ok, sorry for scorning the efforts of all the Noble Heroes who are Sacrificing Everything to Save Us from Doom. Is that better? Is that what you need to hear?

Quote:
How many people have died in this fire?

Oh Christ, you're right, no one has burned to death or been asphyxiated - and here I am - a QUEBECER - mocking and debasing the HEROIC fighters who have saved EVERYONE from DEATH!!! I humbly apologize. No, wait, I self-destruct - is that enough??

Quote:
If it was as simple as getting out the backhoe and cutting a firebreak, I expect it would probably have been done. Never mind that sparks fly for kilometres.

Now we're getting somewhere. You have finally settled down (MAYBE) and are thinking about my question. Sparks fly for kilometres? Really? How many?

Oh wait. I don't think you know. Or care.

Let me close on this note:

Glory to our Heroes! We owe them everything!!

All right.

My penance is done.

 

6079_Smith_W

Cross posted with you U.

Like I said, I think Hurtin Albertan may have answered your question at #30.

And as I said, one of the things I remember from last summer is firefighters doing preventative work to protect houses, cabins and other buildings, just as you think they should. Sometimes it worked; sometimes it did not.

That job,  and helping people get out.

But yes, I am kind of shaking my head at the notion that there must be some way to stop these fires (you say from doing any damage? Sure. Whatever) if we only had the will and did it right. When we are talking about hundreds of fires, it ain't quite that simple.

6079_Smith_W

Here's the current situation in Alberta. 390 fires already this season. 32 currently active. 

 

http://wildfire.alberta.ca/reports/sitrep.html

A couple of numbers from last year's fire season in Saskatchewan.

By July 5  we had already had 565 fires, more than triple the seasonal total for the year before.

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/wildfires-mapped-saskatchewan-is-burning-1....

And a snapshot of July 17: 116 fires burning; 25 had been put out overnight. Five more started.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/by-the-numbers-northern-sask-...

And with the Fort Mac fire 60 km away from the nearest Saskatchewan settlement, it may soon be our fire.

http://globalnews.ca/news/2687906/saskatchewan-prepares-for-wildfire-to-...

The pictures I have seen from Fort Mac showed that it rained there today, and that system is on its way here, followed by freezing temperatures.

 

 

 

 

quizzical

Unionist wrote:
6079_Smith_W wrote:
You have fires in your province, Unionist.

Oh, thanks, here I thought I was just insulting Albertans for being the only ones in the world incapable of controlling fires. Here I thought I was just asking a serious question about science and the limits of human ability to manage nature. Thanks for reminding me that this is about some vile childish squabble!

Quote:
You know as well as I do that very often they cannot be extinguished, only managed.

You can't read? Let me walk you through it. I'm not talking about "EXTINGUISHING" fires. I'm asking whether it's possible to prevent forest wildfires from invading populated areas. Got it? Yes? No? 

Quote:
And if you don't want me to misinterpret maybe don't use terms like "failing miserably" to describe the efforts of people who are working as hard as they can.

Ok, sorry for scorning the efforts of all the Noble Heroes who are Sacrificing Everything to Save Us from Doom. Is that better? Is that what you need to hear?

Quote:
How many people have died in this fire?

Oh Christ, you're right, no one has burned to death or been asphyxiated - and here I am - a QUEBECER - mocking and debasing the HEROIC fighters who have saved EVERYONE from DEATH!!! I humbly apologize. No, wait, I self-destruct - is that enough??

Quote:
If it was as simple as getting out the backhoe and cutting a firebreak, I expect it would probably have been done. Never mind that sparks fly for kilometres.

Now we're getting somewhere. You have finally settled down (MAYBE) and are thinking about my question. Sparks fly for kilometres? Really? How many?

Oh wait. I don't think you know. Or care.

Let me close on this note:

Glory to our Heroes! We owe them everything!!

All right.

My penance is done.

here in BC unionist the wildfire branch of the ministry of forests has been trying to get urban rural interface areas cleared out and ladder fuels removed for the past 15+ years. they've warned and warned this very thing would happen.  they've fought an uphill battle. few if any municipal governments will be proactive and put the money and power they've got to get it done.

then we've got the no clear cutting anywhere NIMBY people and.....this will be a major BC city coming to a news venue near you.

speaking of cities and workers. an employee of the City of Tabor AB just got suspended because he said "karma....".

JohnInAlberta JohnInAlberta's picture

kropotkin1951 wrote:

babble is NOT intended as a place where the basic and fundamental values of human rights, feminism, anti-racism and labour rights are to be debated or refought. Anyone who joins babble who indicates intentions to challenge these rights and principles may be seen as disruptive to the nature of the forum.

I know, I know, I'm being drawn into your now obvious trolling (the meme was exceptionally clever. </s>) but so be it.  I don't believe I'm anti-any of the above, in fact, I'm very pro-labour ... full disclosure, I hold a senior position at a coroporation involved in Alberta's resource industry.  Instead of laying staff off the management took a voluntary cut and we also asked our suppliers to cut where it wouldn't affect their staff.  The result?  Zero layoffs within our firm.  Not to make us feel better about ourselves, nor to shine a light on us but because we truly value those we work with and don't believe in treating people as a commodity.  Our maternity & paternity leave surpasses anything the federal government offers and our work with groups like WINGS speaks volumes WRT our stance on femenist and domestic issues.

As someone who's directly involved in this industry yes, I see the damage it causes but I also see the benefits that result and I truly believe that, at least for Canada and especially regionally, we in the resource industry provide an extremely valueable service that mitigates the damage caused.  We're not all horn-laden demons, claws gripping into every environmental facet of the province:  I can proudly state that we've never had a single incident (spill, fire, accident etc.) at any of our facilities, and we're not uncommon.  There are indeed outliers: I won't name names but a simple Google or DuckDuckGo search will show a few of the bad guys, and they should be held to task ... and any decent producer, shipper or distributor will support that statement.

Not everything is black-and-white, and I think you're going to have to start looking at shades of grey if you're going to examine elements that are outside of your standard comfort zone.

6079_Smith_W

Look John, I absolutely know that you aren't horn-laden demons any more than we are.

You certainly aren't the only ones who fall into that defensive hyperbolae when one is simply trying to make a point.

But neither do I think anyone in our oil-producing provinces has a leg to stand on if they think the oil industry, and in particular the very wasteful process of oilsand extraction isn't open to criticism.

Same thing for the fact our governments, in particular our last federal government has tied our economy to the oil industry in an unsustainable and damaging way. Damaging in terms of what we saw when oil prices dropped, and damaging in the way they have dismantled environmental protections, targetted First Nations and other critics, and muzzled scientists.

Damaging because its particulary dangerous product played a role in burning a town to the ground when a train caught fire.

Damaging in terms of the pipeline leaks, the earthquakes which are starting. The poisoned water.

And damaging because it is a part of the worldwide system that is pumping carbon into the environment. The system that is raising global temperatures, causing the conditions that has resulted in the increase in wildfires which is only going to get worse, not better. The same wildfire which burned La Ronge last year and Fort Mac this year.

So no, we don't have to suck it up and take the good with the bad, and not just because the way this industry is being developed at an increasing rate isn't good at all. And no one in Alberta or Saskatchewan has a leg to stand on if they think they have any right to use other provinces as a distraction and an excuse because of the accident that we happen to live where the oil is. 

If we want to talk about good management of your resources and your finances I think the crunch that happened when oil prices dropped shows pretty clearly that our provinces should be ashamed at the way they have pissed away surpluses and resource money.

 

 

voice of the damned

Left Turn wrote:

voice of the damned wrote:
Left Turn wrote:

montrealer58 wrote:
I'd say that because there was no lightning before the wildfire, it was probably started by someone in the area. You can't blame the tar sands OR climate change for that.

If the fire was human caused, chances are it was caused by someone who would not have been in the area if the tar sands were not a thing.

Well, by the same logic, if there is a fire near Cambridge Massachusetts, chances are it was caused by someone who would not have been in the area were Harvard University not a thing.

Therefore, Harvard University caused the fire?

If a fire near Cambridge Massachusetts was caused by someone who was only there because of Harvard, then Harvard is an indirect cause of that fire.

Well, yeah, but do you "blame" the university for the fire? Because the post you were replying to said that "we can't blame the tarsands for the fire", and you're point about people coming in to work in the tarsands was presumbaly rebutting that.

Hurtin Albertan

I'm really glad Unionist asked those questions, that was going to be my next information dump/post but I had a busy weekend and didn't have the time or the inclination to post much.

In the meantime, FireSmart is the Canadian term, Firewise is the American term, not sure what the Australians call it but regardless of the name or terminology, it's all pretty much the same stuff.

FireSmart can refer to the things an individual homeowner can do if they live on a farm, other rural locations, cabin at the lake, etc etc.  It could also apply to homeowners living in cities surrounded by forests but maybe not as much, since the lots are smaller in towns and you can't do vegetation management on your neighbour's trees.  Google search for the Firesmart Homeowner's manual, doesn't matter much which province's manuals you look at, they should all be the same.

FireSmart can also apply to the defensive measures that a community or town or what have you can undertake.  In that case google search for the FireSmart community preparedness guide or something along those lines.

Firesmartcanada.ca is a good website that should answer a lot of questions, but will likely raise a lot of new questions as well.

If any of you are more interested in the tactical side of things, then google "S 215" or "S 215 wildland" and you should find various hits that lead you to different versions of the S 215 Fire Operations in the Wildland/Urban Interface training course, didn't have the time to see if this sort of google search will help you find an actual training manual or if it's just links to various training providers.

I'd be more than happy to try and give my input on some of the questions raised, just keep in mind this is my opinion on things.  And I'm still pretty busy with work.

Anyways hope this helps some of you that are more interested in learning about this, I'll try and post more if I can.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Tar sands jobs are a extremely small part of the employment in Canada. The highest guesstimates come from the the Petroleum Human Resources Council (PHRC) report, total estimated oil industry employment in 2012 was 195,200. That is not tar sands that is all oil and gas activity including building pipelines. The total number of employed people in Canada is just over 18,000,000. So the number of oil and gas jobs is in the fart in a windstorm range of 1.08%. [edited to correct early morning math]

The idea that this polluting industry should be coddled is ridiculous. If our new addition to this site had read some of my past musings on the tar sands he would know that I think that we should not expand production and that the current production should be refined in Alberta to produce something that is not as toxic to ship to domestic markets. 

Bitumen and the dilbit required to make it flow through pipes is a toxic substance that erodes pipelines exponentially faster than regular oil and when the inevitable spill occurs it sends a toxic mix into the atmosphere and the bitumen sinks and makes it nearly impossible to clean up. Those are the facts that make me say no to pipelines carrying tar sands gunk across my province. It is science based not ideologically based. There is not left or right wing ideology in environmental degradation there is only wrong headed corporate greed.

http://www.pembina.org/blog/making-sense-of-fossil-fuel-subsidies

http://www.tradingeconomics.com/canada/unemployment-rate

Unionist

Hurtin Albertan wrote:

I'm really glad Unionist asked those questions, that was going to be my next information dump/post but I had a busy weekend and didn't have the time or the inclination to post much.

In the meantime, FireSmart is the Canadian term, Firewise is the American term, not sure what the Australians call it but regardless of the name or terminology, it's all pretty much the same stuff.

FireSmart can refer to the things an individual homeowner can do if they live on a farm, other rural locations, cabin at the lake, etc etc.  It could also apply to homeowners living in cities surrounded by forests but maybe not as much, since the lots are smaller in towns and you can't do vegetation management on your neighbour's trees.  Google search for the Firesmart Homeowner's manual, doesn't matter much which province's manuals you look at, they should all be the same.

FireSmart can also apply to the defensive measures that a community or town or what have you can undertake.  In that case google search for the FireSmart community preparedness guide or something along those lines.

Firesmartcanada.ca is a good website that should answer a lot of questions, but will likely raise a lot of new questions as well.

If any of you are more interested in the tactical side of things, then google "S 215" or "S 215 wildland" and you should find various hits that lead you to different versions of the S 215 Fire Operations in the Wildland/Urban Interface training course, didn't have the time to see if this sort of google search will help you find an actual training manual or if it's just links to various training providers.

I'd be more than happy to try and give my input on some of the questions raised, just keep in mind this is my opinion on things.  And I'm still pretty busy with work.

Anyways hope this helps some of you that are more interested in learning about this, I'll try and post more if I can.

Wow, thanks so much for this, Hurtin - got more than I bargained for! Now I'll shut up and read until I've learned enough to ask some intelligent questions. May take a while...

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

voice of the damned wrote:
Left Turn wrote:

voice of the damned wrote:
Left Turn wrote:

montrealer58 wrote:
I'd say that because there was no lightning before the wildfire, it was probably started by someone in the area. You can't blame the tar sands OR climate change for that.

If the fire was human caused, chances are it was caused by someone who would not have been in the area if the tar sands were not a thing.

Well, by the same logic, if there is a fire near Cambridge Massachusetts, chances are it was caused by someone who would not have been in the area were Harvard University not a thing.

Therefore, Harvard University caused the fire?

If a fire near Cambridge Massachusetts was caused by someone who was only there because of Harvard, then Harvard is an indirect cause of that fire.

 

Well, yeah, but do you "blame" the university for the fire? Because the post you were replying to said that "we can't blame the tarsands for the fire", and you're point about people coming in to work in the tarsands was presumbaly rebutting that.

My point is that the chances of there being an indirect link between the tar sands and the cause of this fire are pretty good. The development of the tar sands has likely changed most of what goes on in that region.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

CBC's The National devoted this week's Sunday Talk segment to [url=http://www.cbc.ca/news/thenational/panel-the-science-behind-the-fort-mcm... Science Behind the Fort McMurray Fire[/url]. This might answer some of Unionist's questions upthread about why firefighters were not able to keep this fire from going into Fort McMurray.

Paladin1

Unionist wrote:

6079_Smith_W wrote:

You have fires in your province, Unionist.

Oh, thanks, here I thought I was just insulting Albertans for being the only ones in the world incapable of controlling fires. Here I thought I was just asking a serious question about science and the limits of human ability to manage nature. Thanks for reminding me that this is about some vile childish squabble!

Quote:
You know as well as I do that very often they cannot be extinguished, only managed.

You can't read? Let me walk you through it. I'm not talking about "EXTINGUISHING" fires. I'm asking whether it's possible to prevent forest wildfires from invading populated areas. Got it? Yes? No? 

Quote:
And if you don't want me to misinterpret maybe don't use terms like "failing miserably" to describe the efforts of people who are working as hard as they can.

Ok, sorry for scorning the efforts of all the Noble Heroes who are Sacrificing Everything to Save Us from Doom. Is that better? Is that what you need to hear?

Quote:
How many people have died in this fire?

Oh Christ, you're right, no one has burned to death or been asphyxiated - and here I am - a QUEBECER - mocking and debasing the HEROIC fighters who have saved EVERYONE from DEATH!!! I humbly apologize. No, wait, I self-destruct - is that enough??

Quote:
If it was as simple as getting out the backhoe and cutting a firebreak, I expect it would probably have been done. Never mind that sparks fly for kilometres.

Now we're getting somewhere. You have finally settled down (MAYBE) and are thinking about my question. Sparks fly for kilometres? Really? How many?

Oh wait. I don't think you know. Or care.

Let me close on this note:

Glory to our Heroes! We owe them everything!!

All right.

My penance is done.

 

 

Babble would be such a better place if all posts had to get approved by you first.

Unionist

Paladin1 wrote:

Babble would be such a better place if all posts had to get approved by you first.

I understand that now the discussion has taken a serious turn, your frustration level is growing. Go play with your guns and work it out.

Unionist

Left Turn wrote:

CBC's The National devoted this week's Sunday Talk segment to [url=http://www.cbc.ca/news/thenational/panel-the-science-behind-the-fort-mcm... Science Behind the Fort McMurray Fire[/url]. This might answer some of Unionist's questions upthread about why firefighters were not able to keep this fire from going into Fort McMurray.

Thanks, Left Turn - will listen - though I wish they provided transcripts like Democracy Now or The Real News. Life is so short.

ETA: Ok, I listened. My questions above related to prevention of fires attaining inhabited areas. I heard about why it happened - but not what to do about it. Only Paul (the guy in the bow-tie) spoke for a few seconds, without details, about bylaws in Swan Hills (I think) regarding fire-resistant roofs and a "zone of protection" around properties.

So what is a "zone of protection", and why can't it be created around towns? If (as the other male said) one of the three factors in these fires is fuel (dry leaves, needles, etc.), then can the fuel be eliminated at a sufficient distance - or is that utterly unrealistic?

ETA again: I see two books by Stephen J. Pyne that look interesting: 1. Fire: A Brief History; and 2. Tending Fire: Coping with America's Wildland Fires. Anyone know if they're worth looking into?

quizzical

Unionist"zone of protection" around properties. wrote:

So what is a "zone of protection", and why can't it be created around towns? If (as the other male said) one of the three factors in these fires is fuel (dry leaves, needles, etc.), then can the fuel be eliminated at a sufficient distance - or is that utterly unrealistic?

i talked about this up above. guess you ignored.

yes they can create it. not unrealistic and most provincial wildlands fire service officials having been stating for years get a 'zone of protection' and get rid of the ladder fuels in this area between wildlands and urban.

it's called an interface area. municipal and provincial governments don't wanna foot the bill to fall trees and get rid of ladder fuels. imv they'd rather dish it out when everything burns and they can get federal help.

plus you have push back for those who want trees up to their house and no deforested zone of protection.

it's kinda like the people who pulled their dikes down to get a river view then get flooded out.

6079_Smith_W

Latest word is there is a zone of protection between the big fire and La Loche, SK.

Because all of it burned last year.

 

Hurtin Albertan

Alberta has had a FireSmart Community Grant program for awhile now.  Not sure how much $$$ the province puts into the fund, I'll see if I can find some numbers.

Communities in the Forest Protection Area (and maybe outside of it) can apply for funding to complete various FireSmart projects.  Sometimes it gets spent on consultants who help the community write up plans, sometimes it's spent on buying gear for the fire departments, sometimes they do various vegetation management programs. 

Not sure how much funding is made available for these sorts of projects in other provinces.

Like anything else, interest comes and goes.  It has been a major priority in the past, some work gets done, then for whatever reason it becomes a lower priority until Slave Lake or Ft McMurray happens.  Then it becomes a major priority again and the cycle continues.  It's really kind of depressing.

And it's not uncommon to get push back and resistance when a community tries to do a vegetation management strategy, even something as low impact as thinning out trees and pruning the branches on surrounding vegetation, let alone clearing away all the trees.

I suppose as these horrible incidents occur again and again there should be less push back in the future, I hope.  Guess we'll see.

Hurtin Albertan

"Zone of protection" could be used in either context of the defensible space around a farmhouse or cabin, or the treated space around a community.  Without seeing exactly how it was used it's hard for me to say.

Hurtin Albertan

Sometimes the old burns stop new forest fires, sometimes they don't.  I worked on the huge giant Richardson Backcountry wildfire north of Ft McMurray a few years ago.  That fire got up to an insane size of 700 000 hectares or thereabouts.  Someone made up a map with the fire perimeter overlaid on a map of PEI, they were about the same size.  Yes, that's right, Prince Edward Island.

Anyways, there were all sorts of old burns around it, as the fire grew in size the fire behaviour people would figure on it stopping at the old burns, but the fire would hit the old burns and keep going.  Not as fast, not as intense, but it didn't stop.  Lots of stuff grows in after a burn, the more recent the old fire was the less fuel would have grown back and the better chance of it acting as a fuel break.  In theory.

Hurtin Albertan

A forest fire burns down a building in one of 3 ways.

1.  The flames make direct contact with the structure, and start the exterior on fire.  Key factors here would be the flame height and the building's exterior material.  Or it's deck, porch, etc.

2. Radiant heat from an intense fire starts the exterior of the structure on fire.  Key factors here are the intensity of the fire and the distance between the fire and the structure.  It's an inverse square relationship, if you cut the distance in half the radiant heat is more than just doubled.  Might have my terminology wrong, hope this makes sense.

3.  Fire brands or ember transport.  Key factors here are the way the building is built, and what it's made out of, and the size and number of the fire brands.

There are ways to prevent or stop all 3 from happening, most of them should be done before the fire is threatening the structure, some things can be done at the time the fire is threatening the structure but this is the least preferred option.

Obviously the best way is to keep the fire away from the buildings in the first place, easier said than done in extreme conditions.

Hurtin Albertan

For an individual structure, the key factors are how it's built and what it's made out of, the space between the structure and the fuel, and the type or species of the surrounding forest.

Pretty straightforward stuff, nothing too complicated.  I won't go into too much detail.  You can keep your grass short and maintained, if you can get your grass to stay green and lush it won't or shouldn't burn.  Best if the exterior is non flammable, like stucco or brick or metal.  Large logs typically used in a log cabin aren't so bad, takes a lot to start them on fire.  In theory.  Vinyl or wooden siding isn't so great.  You could also have some sort of decorative gravel flower bed to keep flames away from the building, I've seen a few houses that have that feature.

A large cleared space around the structure, if you are willing to remove trees and shrubs from around your house.  It doesn't have to be completely tree free or vegetation free, some species like pine and spruce are more flammable than leafy deciduous trees, but under extreme conditions these burn too.  Pruning the lower branches off the trees helps keep the fire on the surface oif the ground, and hopefully prevents the entire tree from going up in a big flaming torch, causing more radiant heat.  If trees are too close together, a torching tree can spread easier from one tree to another, so thinning them out helps.  In a perfect world your house is surrounded by deciduous trees, but these will burn too.

Proper spacing between buildings helps too, also having fire resistant decks or porches is a good thing too.  Not stacking all your fire wood up against the house.

Smaller windows that aren't single pane glass, if windows break for whatever reason fire brands can get inside the house.  Or possibly transmit the radiant heat from the fire to the interior even if the window stays intact.  You should have shutters available to cover up the windows to help stop this.

A metal roof is better than asphalt shingles, which are better than cedar shakes or pine shakes.  Closed off eaves so embers can't get into the nooks and crannies and start things on fire.  Closed in spaces under decks or porches to keep fire out. 

Access is also important.  If you expect a fire truck to come to your house, then don't have a narrow windy road with no room for a fire truck to be able to turn around. 

In a perfect world a lot more houses and buildings would be built with these factors in mind.  Not every house was built this way though, it can be pretty expensive to re-side your house, or replace the roof, or replace large single pane windows with smaller triple pane glass or what have you.  And if you have a small lot in a subdivision, your neighbour might have trees that put your house at risk, but you can't do anything to those trees unless you get your neighbour to do it.

I've spoken with home owners who outright told me that they were happy having pine and spruce trees right up to their house, even with the risk it posed.  They said they could always rebuild their house.  I think they were underestimating the financial and emotional cost of losing your house to a forest fire, people are strange sometimes.

 

6079_Smith_W

That word is from the province.

This article doesn't go into detail, but on the radio I heard that they are pretty sure La Loche is safe because of the fire that went through that territory last year..

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/fort-mac-fire-smoke-lingers-i...

We had rain here today. First day in a few that we could actually smell the smoke (more like a garbage fire than a forest fire), instead of just seeing the haze. I guess the rain pulled it out of the air. And the rain was all frothy, like someone poured dish soap all over the road.

 

 

Hurtin Albertan

To protect a community, you probably need 3 things.  Funding, the will to do it, and buy in from the residents.  Ideally you have all 3, you probably won't see much success if you only have 1 out of 3.

We try and do cross training with fire departments, making sure our radios can talk to their radios, or our hoses can connect to their hoses.  In an interface fire, we would deal with the burning or at-risk-of burning trees, and the fire department would deal with the burning or at-risk-of-burning structures.  Learning just what each other can do is important, there are a lot of misuderstandings and msiconceptions on both sides.

Identifying key infrastructure helps, you don't want to lose the water source for the town if you are fighting fire.  Protecting the hospital or the senior citizens home might be more important than protecting the liquor store.  Pretty basic stuff.

Thinning and pruning the surrounding trees might not stop the fire, but it should help lower the intensity of the fire so you can fight it safely.  In theory.  You could totally remove the trees if you get the public to support the idea, easier said than done in my experience.  I'm not convinced you would get the public support to remove all the trees for a 1 or 2 km distance around a community.  Trees grow back, it's not so ideal to do vegetation management if you don't maintain it.

You can clear away or build fuel breaks, again these probably won't stop a raging Intensity Class 6 crown fire but you might be able to use them to safely do a back fire or burnout operation, basically fighting fire with fire.  Again, sometimes easier said than done, and you may have to have the right conditions for it to work.  Timing is everything, as the saying goes.

Setting up sprinklers is always a good idea, but you may not have enough sprinklers available at the time, or the crews to set them up properly, or the time to do it, or the water to feed them.  The logistics involved in a big sprinkler deployment can be pretty challenging.

You can pass various legislation to ban cedar shake roofs, or promote metal roofs, if you have the political will and public support.

You can develop new housing projects or subdivisions so the houses aren't crammed close together, maybe you also ban planting more flammable trees on people's lawns, have more than just one road in and out, have water sources designed into the subdivision so you could use that decorative water feature in the middle of the ring road to fight fires or feed sprinklers in an emergency, but this doesn't do you much good on pre-existing stuff that lacks these features.

Educating the public is a big thing too, people generally do not understand fire and have huge misconceptions on what happens in a fire, or what we can realistically do, or how much of a risk they might be in, etc etc.  That's mainly why I have been posting all of this stuff.

Hurtin Albertan

As for how we go about fighting a forest fire, it's hard to explain really.  Each fire is different.  So much depends on the weather, topography, fuels, and fire behaviour.  Also what resources you have at the time, how much other resources you can call on and how long it takes them to get to the fire, etc etc.  Best I can do would be to give a very generic sort of idea of what goes on.

As for current operations around Ft McMurray, I really have no idea.  I think that they are not worrying so much about the forest fire now that it seems to be moving away from the city.  I'm guessing that most of the work done by aircraft and wildland firefighters is going on around the unburnt houses to make sure as best we can that a wind change, or a change in the weather, won't cause unburned fuels between the unburned houses to cause any more structure losses.  I'm almost positive that the structural fire fighters are either putting out the burned structures or trying to protect the unburned structures.  So far so good.

Parts of Alberta got some rain, quite a bit around High Level, not so much around Ft McMurray but they did get a bit of rain on the fire.  Cooler temperatures and higher humidities have helped lower the fire hazard to more reasonable levels, but it wouldn't take too many hot dry days to push the hazard back up.  Even with the cooler and more humid conditions there is still a lot of areas with high fire hazard due to the long term lack of any significant rain.  The province wide fire ban and ATV ban are still in place, maybe they will start scaling that back in some areas, I don't know.

I ended up working all weekend, so I won't be getting sent anywhere any time soon.

NDPP

Break Free or Burn in Hell: A Message From the Canadian Tar Sands  -  by Paul Street

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/05/09/break-free-or-burn-in-hell-a-mess...

"What's it got to do with fossil fuels? Quite a lot..."

Canadian Capitalism and the Fort McMurray Wildfire

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/05/10/alfi-m10.html

"The Fort McMurray wildfire is not a natural but a man-made disaster for which the capitalist profit system bears responsibility."

Paladin1

Unionist wrote:

Paladin1 wrote:

Babble would be such a better place if all posts had to get approved by you first.

I understand that now the discussion has taken a serious turn, your frustration level is growing. Go play with your guns and work it out.

I understand you're probably embarassed about the tone and childishness of your response to Smith. Even for babble it's quite the display of mockery and an apology would hardly be uncalled for.

Paladin1

Hurtin Albertan wrote:

As for how we go about fighting a forest fire, it's hard to explain really.  Each fire is different.  So much depends on the weather, topography, fuels, and fire behaviour.  Also what resources you have at the time, how much other resources you can call on and how long it takes them to get to the fire, etc etc.  Best I can do would be to give a very generic sort of idea of what goes on.

Why is an ATV ban in place? Does it have to do with sparks from the exaust? I thought spark-arrestors on the muffler mitigated that from happening?  Are emergency services also banned from ATV use?

lagatta

I remember when very serious fires were extremely common here in Montréal and in other cities with densely populated old neighbourhoods (such as Trois-Rivières). Just about all our triplexes had sheds as tall as the main building, which once contained coal, then oil, then simply "stuff" as conversion to electric heating was promoted. Some fires were caused by kids smoking or fooling around, some by arson, especially in gentrifying areas (the very beginnings of gentrification in the Plateau around Carré St-Louis and Parc Lafontaine), others were spontaneous combustion of oily rags or solvents or faulty wiring (which was pretty much the norm). They caused serious damage and quite a few deaths and injuries.

The city subsidized their destruction and since then there have been far fewer catastrophic fires. Nowadays there are many tiny but charming gardens where the sheds (hangars) were, but many people do complain about the lack of storage space in flats built in times of much less "stuff".

On another matter, did anything come of the Russian aid offer? Seems to me that they know a thing or two about boreal forests.

Unionist

quizzical wrote:

Unionist wrote:

So what is a "zone of protection", and why can't it be created around towns? If (as the other male said) one of the three factors in these fires is fuel (dry leaves, needles, etc.), then can the fuel be eliminated at a sufficient distance - or is that utterly unrealistic?

i talked about this up above. guess you ignored.

Sorry, you're right, I totally missed your post on this last week. I just picked up the thread after you asked whether anyone knew what caused the fire. Thanks for the info, by the way.

Hurtin Albertan wrote:
 "Zone of protection" could be used in either context of the defensible space around a farmhouse or cabin, or the treated space around a community.  Without seeing exactly how it was used it's hard for me to say.

In the video posted earlier, he was definitely talking about a zone surrounding a "property". I asked about whether it was realistic to expand that to a zone surrounding a community. Obviously quizzical had dealt with that earlier (hadn't noticed), and you've provided a lot more detail (thank you!).

So - would 1 or 2 kilometres of "interface" be sufficient? That's assuming of course: 1) it makes ecological sense; 2) we could ever convince communities to create and (as you point out) maintain such a zone.

6079_Smith_W

Problem is, that is easier said than done (and maintained). The wildfire I passed this spring, and which also caused an evacuation, was not in boreal forest. It was in open farmland. Until everything greens up in the spring whatever is left over after the snow melts (and that was about nothing) is a tinderbox. Unless you burn everything to the ground in the fall it isn't as simple as just cutting down all the trees.

I think Alberta's fire season started around March 1 this year.

I have also been looking for an online source for something I heard a lot on the radio around those April 18 fires - that the firefighting policy was not to try to protect property until fires got within a certain distance (5km, I thought I heard). And that one of the things being talked about was to expand that.

Again, Hurtin is probably familiar with this, and can recall the details.

 

Unionist

lagatta wrote:

On another matter, did anything come of the Russian aid offer? Seems to me that they know a thing or two about boreal forests.

[url=http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/justin-trudeau-turns-down-russi... Trudeau turns down Russian, U.S., Mexican offers to help fight Fort Mac wildfire[/url]

 

lagatta

You beat me to that. Why didn't he want to accept this aid? And yes, I know that unlike Russia and the US (Alaska) there is no boreal forest in Australia, but they sure have a lot of experience with massive fires, especially in recent years.

... Or "Austral forest". They aren't Patagonia.

6079_Smith_W

Why would it be up to him at all? Natural resources is provincial jurisdiction, no?

 

6079_Smith_W

On Australia, they have actually replaced whole stretches of native trees with spruce and other softwoods. And Tasmania isn't quite like the boreal forest - no shield, after all - but it is in many ways quite similar. And similarly dense and under-populated.

quizzical

6079_Smith_W wrote:
Why would it be up to him at all? Natural resources is provincial jurisdiction, no?

i don't get this either. i don't think he can refuse on behalf of the provinces.

when i was in BC Forest service there were BC fire fighters going to whatever province they were needed in and some went to California, and i know some who have gone to Austrailia. the provinces with no fires provide fire fighters to other provinces.

it's not volunteer fire fighting they get paid. there's a contract drawn up and the countries or provinces pay the BC government for the fire fighters wages.

6079_Smith_W

http://globalnews.ca/news/2689099/edmontonians-disobey-fire-ban-crews-re...

Quote:

Dry conditions, hot weather and strong winds prompted the City of Edmonton to declare a fire ban late Thursday, but residents are not getting the message.

Since then, Edmonton Fire Rescue has responded to 174 calls of people disobeying the bylaw.

Unionist

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Why would it be up to him at all? Natural resources is provincial jurisdiction, no?

 

It's not about "natural resources". It's about relations between states. Pretty sure that's the exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament.

 

quizzical

last fire in AB they got in Mexican fire fighters and there was a back lash. Canadian fire fighters from other provinces could've went not Mexican in some's view.

having fire fighters go to other provinces when nothing is burning in original province actually saves the province of origin money. the fire fighters would be on base anyway waiting for a fire and getting paid.

6079_Smith_W

No, it isn't. Our provinces have all sorts of agreements with neighbouring states. And Natural resources is a provincial jurisdiction.

I can see why a state might approach the PM rather than going to the premier, but I don't see that he has any authority to refuse it.

 

quizzical

i agree 6079_Smith.

 

NDPP

Trudeau Criticized For Refusing International Help For Fort McMurray Wildfire

http://globalnews.ca/news/2690570/trudeau-criticized-for-refusing-intern...

"As the wildfires continue to rage in Alberta, the news that Canada has turned down resources to help fight the flames has sparked some outrage. The US, Russia, Mexico, Australia, Taiwan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority are reported to have offered assistance.

'There is no need to accept any international assistance at this point, but we certainly thank everyone for their generosity,' Trudeau said Monday..."

 

Notley, Energy Executives To Discuss Fort McMurray Wildfire's Impact on Oilsands Operations

http://globalnews.ca/news/2689347/its-essential-to-those-companies-that-...

Paladin1

lagatta wrote:

You beat me to that. Why didn't he want to accept this aid?

 

I think Unionist nailed it.  Politics, and we know everything takes a back seat to that.

Reading that both Israel and Palastine both offered aid. Can you imagine accepting aid from one and not the other? Or accepting aid from palastine then everyone would run around screaming about whether it's recognized as a state bla bla bla. Meanwhile more of our environment and property burns.

 

 

Has trudeau made an apearence in Alberta yet?

Pondering

NDPP wrote:

Trudeau Criticized For Refusing International Help For Fort McMurray Wildfire

http://globalnews.ca/news/2690570/trudeau-criticized-for-refusing-intern...

"As the wildfires continue to rage in Alberta, the news that Canada has turned down resources to help fight the flames has sparked some outrage. The US, Russia, Mexico, Australia, Taiwan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority are reported to have offered assistance.

'There is no need to accept any international assistance at this point, but we certainly thank everyone for their generosity,' Trudeau said Monday..."

 

Notley, Energy Executives To Discuss Fort McMurray Wildfire's Impact on Oilsands Operations

http://globalnews.ca/news/2689347/its-essential-to-those-companies-that-...

Politics as a game is what turned people off politics and leads them to say politicians are ALL alike. It's why people like Trump and Ford and even Trudeau win power.

In my opinion any thinking person knows that Trudeau would not have refused the help if the people in charge of fighting the fire said it would be beneficial.

Everyone knows the media goes for sensationist headlines but when it suits your purposes you fall for it.

The US and Canada even have a formal arrangement. If international help made sense I am sure whomever is leading the firefight and Notley would have requested it.

Notice the NDP has had the sense not to try to politicize the fire.

quizzical

Paladin1 wrote:
lagatta wrote:
You beat me to that. Why didn't he want to accept this aid?

 

I think Unionist nailed it.  Politics, and we know everything takes a back seat to that.

 

Has trudeau made an apearence in Alberta yet?

no. there's no vogue photo op or anything else glamorous happening.

it's hardly a time for "uh's" and the anti-Trudeau sentiment in AB is high and getting higher by the day.

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