Monday 10 September 2012

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Forest Fire Fervor

Things are getting a little crazy up here in the Okanagan today. A forest fire has broken out very near Peachland, which is just a little south of Kelowna, and our skies are filled with water bombers, helicopters, and smoke. Lots of smoke. In fact, the smoke is blocking out the sun and making it so dark here that nobody believed me when I tried to wake them up for school this morning. Of course they don't believe me any morning, but today they actually had a reason.

Fortunately for us, we're out of the way of this fire, but we had our turn three years ago. We'd just come back from a trip to New York and had a few days at home before we left for Las Vegas, when somebody decided that they liked their campfire so much, they wanted to share it with the rest of the city. It gets pretty dry around here in the summer, so things can get going pretty fast. One minute we were out enjoying a nice summer afternoon, the next...

...things started getting a little ominous.

Water bombers flying over your house is never a good sign. Sure enough, a couple of minutes after this, the police came around ordering everybody to evacuate. We all ran inside to start packing irreplaceable things. The kids started packing their toys, Lori started packing the photo albums, and I started emptying the fridge (Hey, everybody has their priorities!). 

Lori and the kids headed out immediately, taking all of our stuff with them, but once you leave the evacuation zone, you're not allowed back in, so I stayed behind for a little bit to make sure that we had everything we were going to need. That and there was still some ice cream that hadn't been eaten yet. 

What finally convinced me that it was time to go? 

Was it when the fire reached the end of our street?

Nah, that was OK. Was it when the only thing standing between the fire and my neighbours house was this guy?

Maybe a little. What really convinced me that it was time to leave though, was when this cloud of smoke came rolling down the hillside and started filling up our street.

Even with almost a 1/4 carton of ice cream to go, that was enough to convince me that it was time to leave while I could still see the street. I grabbed the last few things (yes...they were sandwiches) and got out of there. 

In the end, we had no problems. The firefighters did a fantastic job, and while a few houses were lost the damage really was far less than it looked like it could be in the early stages. It was three days before we were allowed back into our house (See...I was smart to eat the ice cream...) but we returned to find everything in excellent condition, except for a slight barbecue smell which made me constantly hungry. Fortunately, we had to head out to Las Vegas the very next day, so I was able to satisfy my cravings for smoked food at the best buffets in the world. 

As I sit here listening to the water bombers fly overhead once again, here's hoping for equally good results for all the evacuees in Peachland this week (and if you need any help with your ice cream, give me a call).

Written by Steve Pratt