Fort McMurray wildfire

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Pondering

quizzical wrote:

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.

So are Albertan leaders all idiots? Does neither Notley nor whomever is leading the fire fight have the sense to say they need help? Or would they rather watch Ft. McMurray burn to the ground than ask for help out of pride?

The notion that Trudeau took this decision, refusing ALL international aid, even from the US, as a political statement is sheer stupidity. If anything accepting help from the US/Obama would have fed the friendship narrative the Liberals are selling. Attacking Trudeau rather than attacking neoliberalism will continue to lead to failure.

Hurtin Albertan

Paladin1 - the ATV ban was put in place to prevent ATV caused fires.  Locally, our top 3 human caused fires are classified as Resident, Recreation and Power Lines (Resident fires are people burning without a permit, or who burn stuff in the winter that is still on fire in the spring, or other assorted stuff.  Recreation included abandoned campfires, ATV caused fires, other assorted stuff.  Power Lines are almost always trees on power lines, sometimes animals get into the power line infrastructure and start fires).  So ATV caused fires are probably one of the biggest sources of human caused fires provincially.  I'll see if I can dig up some better numbers.

The ATV fires might be from sparks out the exhaust, in my experience they usually start fires because people take their machines for a rip through a muskeg area, all that organic soil gets caked between the muffler and the heat shield, if you don't clean that stuff out sooner or later the heat from the muffler dries it out and starts it on fire.  Usually it just smoulders on the muffler until you hit some bumps and it falls off into dead dry grass and starts a fire.  Might happen the same day, might happen your next trip, like I said a lot of people don't clean this part of their ATV.  It's usually more of a problem in the spring, when the grass is still dead and hasn't greened up yet.

Spark arrestors are good for arresting sparks, don't do much for smouldering organic soil or muskeg caked around a muffler.

Commercial users like surveyors are still allowed to use them, as are agricultural workers, emergency services and First Nations for some reason. They are still OK to use on private land, the ban is mainly for Crown land.

Anyways, guess they figured that since ATV's cause a fairly significant percentage of our fires, and a ban can actually keep them off Crown land, it was worth a try.  Can't do much about power line fires, or train caused fires, etc etc but at least as far as I am aware of, the ATV ban has prevented a number of fires so far.

Hurtin Albertan

I've worked with the Mexicans a few times in my career.  We sent people down to Jalisco State to train them up to our standards, but of course I never got to go.  A few years back we had one 4 person Helitack crew that was made up of a Mexican crew leader and 3 Alberta firefighters, and another crew with an Albertan crew leader and 3 Mexican firefighters.  It is a very big deal and some kind of great honour for the Mexicans to come up to Alberta, seems like we get the best of the best from Jalisco State.  There is sometimes a bit of a language barrier, on a 20 person crew of Mexicans maybe only the leader and a couple of firefighters speak English, so if you are out and about on the fireline and run across a random Mexican firefighter it's a lot of hand gestures and basic phrases.  Hola, amigo!

They were always eager to trade for souvenirs.  I have all sorts of stuff I traded with them the last time I worked with them.

On an unrelated note, BC, Alberta, Washington, Idaho and Montana have their own resource sharing agreement called the Northwest Compact.  We can share resources with each other without having to coordinate it through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, or the American counterpart.  Supposed to be quicker this way.  last year I worked with Americans from Idaho.  They weren't as eager to trade for souvenirs.

quizzical

pondering, you're busy putting words in my mouth by asking questions about sfa i said or inferred. lololol

fire fighters and resources came from across Canada at least those available.

there's much more to fighting a fire than most think behind the scenes at the fire centres with the meteorologists, in the air and on the ground.

PM Trudeau should've been on the ground when Notley was yesterday.

Hurtin Albertan

Back to our hypothetical 2 km wide fire break, I did some googling and found an online copy of a powerpoint presentation done by Marty Alexander, one of Canada's top fire scientists.

Basically, spotting distances of 50 m are very common, spotting distances of up to 200 m are common, and spotting distances of 2 km are Uncommon.  In 2003 in BC spot fires were observed up to 5 km ahead of the fire.  The world record seems to be from Australia, 29 km in 1965 and maybe as far as 34 km in 2009.

So even a 2 km wide paved or gravel non-flammable fire guard wouldn't stop everything.  It'd sure do a heck of a job at preventing direct flame contact with structures though, and radiant heat shouldn't pose much of a problem from 2 km away, the presentation wasn't clear on what exactly "Uncommon" means, but to me it sure means not 100% and not 0%.

Pondering

quizzical wrote:

pondering, you're busy putting words in my mouth by asking questions about sfa i said or inferred. lololol

fire fighters and resources came from across Canada at least those available.

there's much more to fighting a fire than most think behind the scenes at the fire centres with the meteorologists, in the air and on the ground.

PM Trudeau should've been on the ground when Notley was yesterday.

Why? He said he will be there on Friday.

quizzical

oh i see. he wanted his own photo op and wants to bother the support services twice in one week for dignitary visits...

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Fires costing oilsands sector $70 million a day in lost revenue

As oilsands companies scramble to determine when they can start producing oil again in fire-ravaged northern Alberta, the industry is estimated to be losing $70 million every day that production is off line.

“There are a lot of fixed costs that don’t go away by just shutting in your production,” ARC Financial vice-president of energy research Jackie Forrest  said, pointing to employee salaries, and in some cases pre-paid diluent costs and fixed pipeline costs.

She said the industry is losing about $70 million per day in forgone revenues, given that one million barrels of various grades of daily oil production are shut in because of the fires raging around Fort McMurray.

“Your quarterly numbers are going to be quite damaged by this because not only do you have lost revenue, but you have a lot of expenses that didn’t go away,” she said....

quizzical
Brad Northcote

This article popped up when I opened my browser, so I just checked it out...and it should be as widely read as possible.

What we really need, though, is a movement of people who aren't afraid to confront the implications of this catastrophe for Canada's environmental and energy policies...instead of reliance on a politician who shrugs them off by saying "There have always been fires."
There are scientific models suggesting that such a movement is one of few real barriers to unsustainable environmental devastation.

So, speaking of neoliberalism, if lost revenues and incurred costs are used, as Lukacs suggests in the above-linked article, to justify ramming a pipeline through all regulatory procedures, then there would need to be a counter-movement calling for a shift to green technology and the imposition of further costs for reconstruction and green technology development on oil and gas companies.

What is being done, on the ground, to organize a popular movement in support of cleaner alternatives and to shift the costs for reconstruction off of the public and back where they belong?

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..great read. txs quizzical

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

A tale of two communities in crisis: Fort McMurray and Attawapiskat

Crisis situations are shaking two Canadian communities to their very core – the terrifying wildfires that destroyed Fort McMurray, and the epidemic of attempted youth suicides on the Attawapiskat First Nations reserve.

The question arises: Why are billions of dollars being pumped in to deal with one crisis while the other is all but being ignored?

By the time Fort McMurray is rebuilt, it’s likely that governments will have spent $2-billion or more. Donations from Canadians will reach into the millions. And a representative of one of the big insurance companies estimated they will be required to pay as much as $9-billion to restore homes and businesses.

I have no quarrel with anything that is being done to help the people and community of Fort McMurray. The destruction and emotional distress suffered by residents is taking a heavy toll. Like thousands of other folks, I have made a financial contribution.

What I do object to is that, in comparison, the federal and Ontario governments are doing practically nothing and spending a pittance to alleviate the suicide crisis in Attawapiskat, a poverty-stricken, isolated community of 2,000 located 720 km north of Sudbury....

Paladin1

epaulo13 wrote:

 

What I do object to is that, in comparison, the federal and Ontario governments are doing practically nothing and spending a pittance to alleviate the suicide crisis in Attawapiskat, a poverty-stricken, isolated community of 2,000 located 720 km north of Sudbury....

 

I think you answered your own question. It's subjective. A town of 2000 with a suicide crisis won't recieve the same amount of anything as a city of 80'000 that's all but wiped off the map. Two totally different issues.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Paladin1 wrote:

I think you answered your own question. It's subjective. A town of 2000 with a suicide crisis won't recieve the same amount of anything as a city of 80'000 that's all but wiped off the map. Two totally different issues.

The suicide crisis is just one off the problems. They also have no drinking water and no sewage treatment to speak of. They are of course not unique in that respect given that many First nations communities lack essential infrastructure like potable water coming out of the tap.

As for Fort Mac being almost wiped off the map it is my understanding that 85% to 90% of the houses are still standing and were unharmed. Their schools are all in tack and their hospital is still there. Your post highlights the fact that many Canadians have great empathy for settler communities and are willing to ignore and downplay the worse than third world conditions many of our northern First Nations live in every fucking day.

Unionist

Nailed it, krop.

Paladin1

I thought most of fort mac proper was destroyed by the fire.I'm reading 85% is still intact but there's still thousands of homes and structures damaged and destroyed. Still egg on my face I'll conceed that.

i found this on the water treatment issue.

Quote:
When in 1976, AANDC recommended that the community water supply should come not from the river but from an inland lake (slough) just northeast of the hamlet, community members using traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) were aware that the water intake site proposed was too high in organics. They were right and no filtration system since then has proven adequate to control the quantities of organics without over-compensation with chemicals. Two consecutive treatment plants have failed, causing health problems. According to GENIVAR senior engineer, Rod Peters (2012),[71] "The real problem is that the dissolved organic carbon (DOC) level is just too high to start. When you chlorinate the filtered water, trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acid (HAA5s) are formed within five minutes of contact." As well there’s bromide in the raw water from the slough which reacts with the ozonate bromide used in the filtration process, turning to "bromate, which is a carcinogen."[71]

 

The remote location and difficulties sustaining a settlement of 2000 people there in seems like the issue.

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Paladin1 wrote:

The remote location and difficulties sustaining a settlement of 2000 people there in seems like the issue.

Fort McMurray is a remote location but it does not have to rely on the Crown upholding its treaty obligations to get services. 

Paladin1

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Paladin1 wrote:

The remote location and difficulties sustaining a settlement of 2000 people there in seems like the issue.

Fort McMurray is a remote location but it does not have to rely on the Crown upholding its treaty obligations to get services. 

 

Exactly.

ilha formosa

So, looks like this is what happens when the moisture up north stored as ice starts vanishing. I’ll say it again: Climate change is biome change, which we are witnessing in front of our very eyes. The boreal forest is turning into brushland or even grassland, if not desert. (51ºC record set in India today--not unrelated to this thread)

 

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Thank you epaulo and Kropotkin for raising what has not been raised by the media or anyone else for that matter. I was astonished that I was receiving sympathy emails from friends across the US who were watching reports of the Fort Mac fires with great concern. Of course they're immediate concerns about my safety were totally offside with my being 2 provinces away but the saturation of news coverage was something to behold. Even today, when I went to buy a bottle of wine at the MLCC, they asked if I wanted to contribute to the Fort Mac Relief. This after most local government officials confirming that most of the infrastructure is totally intact and that less than 15% homes were destroyed.

The contrast between conditions and concern for lives on First Nation Reserves is striking. There seems to be some underlying resentment or disapproval of those communities. Even f*cking Cretien suggested that they move away as a solution. The lack of respect and empathy is depressing. I work with some of these northern communities and their roots to their home extend far more generations than those in Fort Mac.

quizzical

my daughter even donated her 800.00 grad dress to the cause. i suspect someone is just going to make money off of all the expensive grad dresses donated.

6079_Smith_W

Black bears doing what black bears do, especially when their home has burned up.

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/hungry-black-bears-descend-on-fort-mcmurray...

Also, anyone else heard anything about the tent caterpillar situation. I just heard this weekend there are a lot of places up north where it is really bad.

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

281 Firefighters arrive from South Africa

The story notes that "A large portion of the South African firefighters have come through a program in their country called "Working On Fire."

The program was implemented over a decade ago and is designed to give young people in that country a job, pulling them out of poverty."

I hope this wasn't the Trudeau regime shopping around for the best deal while Alberta burned.

6079_Smith_W

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/south-african-firefighters-...

Quote:

After less than a week on the job, 300 South African firefighters in Alberta have gone on strike in a pay dispute. All of the firefighters have been “demobilized” since the strike, and some or all of them will be flown home, their managers say.

 

 

Unionist

From Smith's linked article:

Quote:
The dispute began just north of Fort McMurray when a team of 60 South African firefighters met with an official from their government on Tuesday morning. A local contractor working with the team described the meeting to The Globe and Mail. Because Alberta’s forestry department has warned contractors that speaking with the media will lead to being barred from future contracts, the man has asked that his identity be withheld.

My emphasis. And:

Quote:
The Alberta government confirmed on Wednesday that the South African crews weren’t working due to a dispute. According to the Minister of Agriculture’s press secretary, the province can’t do anything in the dispute because it is between the firefighters and the South African government.

If either of these attributions are accurate - let alone both of them - some representatives of the Alberta government need to be terminated.

 

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Well if they contracted out the arrangement to the SA government then they might just wash their hands of it. Which is one of the ideas of contracting out in the first place. You know. Absolve yourself of responsibility and tell everyone to think of the children.

$15/day and it's still more than they make at home. Certainly not the $15 or $25 /hr that some MSM here in Canada tried to sell. Blecch.

Canada. Cheapskates - even in an emergency. Fack.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Which is one of the ideas of contracting out in the first place. You know. Absolve yourself of responsibility and tell everyone to think of the children.

Or, the government wasn't ready to start cutting individual deals with individual SA firefighters.  I don't think that's unreasonable, at face value.

That said, it might have been nice if the provincial government had just paid them whatever they pay any other firefighters doing the same job.

Unionist

Excellent - seems there's someone who understands Alberta labour laws:

[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/south-african-firefighters-... says South African firefighters’ low wages are ‘not acceptable’[/url]

Quote:
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she’s disturbed 300 South African firefighters working the blaze near Fort McMurray are receiving an allowance of only $15 a day, vowing that they’ll be paid what the province’s labour laws require. [...]

Speaking in Calgary on Thursday, Ms. Notley said the firefighters need to be paid at least the minimum required by Alberta law – $11.20 an hour. She said the province is paying $170 daily for each South African firefighter, as well as providing food, accommodation and travel costs.

“It’s not acceptable to me and to my government that we would have people working for wages in our province that do not align with our labour laws,” she said. “Every hour that every firefighter from South Africa, or anywhere else, has worked on these fires will be compensated in accordance with our laws in this province.”

Thank you, Premier Notley!

 

Unionist

ikosmos wrote:

Well if they contracted out the arrangement to the SA government then they might just wash their hands of it. Which is one of the ideas of contracting out in the first place. You know. Absolve yourself of responsibility and tell everyone to think of the children.

I don't think so.

Minimum labour standards apply to all employees in the province, irrespective who they work for.

This Alberta government is distinctly unimpressive.

ETA: Changed my mind - see below!

 

quizzical

i figured the South African company was going to pay them sfa while the AB government paid the company close to the same rate fire fighters got.

same happens here with for profit fire fighting companies. the company gets paid the going rates while workers get paid min wage.

in the SA workers case the for profit comany were going to take more than they do here. no wonder they've expanded internationally in a decade. i wonder who owns the company?

what's wrong with hiring Canadians to fire fight in Canada? the decrease in trained emergency wild fire fighters to call upon in favour of minimum wage paying contractors is bs.

privatization of fire fighting services or contracting out to for profit companies for wild fire fighting in Canada is also bs. for several reasons. imv main one is trade agreements.

 

 

6079_Smith_W

x

Unionist

Widespread destruction of Fort McMurray homes largely preventable, report says

Quote:

A new report concludes the widespread destruction of homes in the Fort McMurray wildfire was largely preventable.

"The total number of homes lost at Fort McMurray would have been far fewer if there had been more widespread adoption of FireSmart risk-reduction practices by homeowners," according to the report by the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. [...]

Those solutions, he said, include selecting less flammable vegetation and breaking up pathways fire can follow by pruning lower branches, moving firewood piles and recycling away from the home and using topsoil instead of wood chips.

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