At a certain point, it begins to blur together.
The evacuation alerts and orders, the images of people driving in long lines down a highway, all the vehicles going in the same direction, a plume of smoke in the distance behind them.
The scenery of the wreckage after a fire gets into a populated area.
It might be Fort McMurray in 2016, it might be Lytton in 2021, or Paradise, California in 2018. It might be West Kelowna or Lahaina or Yellowknife this year.
A recent infographic making the rounds showed all the areas where there have been major forest fires in Canada this year.
It was essentially a map of where there are major forests in Canada.
It’s extremely hard to know what our response to this should be.
On the immediate front, it’s obvious. We support the evacuees, we ensure they have adequate food, shelter, clothing, child care, diapers, pet food, all the necessities that get left behind.
And we should consider enhancing our firefighting capacity, on a national level.
There is no level of wildfire fighting strength that can prevent every fire, but we could do more, and we should be doing it as part of a major federal-provincial, and possibly international, partnership.
But beyond that, it’s not just shocking, or heartbreaking, to watch these fires tear into our communities, or communities overseas.
What do we do, in a world that is now more flammable than any we have known before?
Do we rebuild every community, putting people back in the path of another fire in five, 10, 20 years? How do we build communities that can withstand a force like a wildfire?
Do we relocate people to safer areas – and are there safer areas?
After the fires are doused or burn out, we’ll be left with more questions than obvious answers.
It’s time for everyone to start thinking about them.
– Black Press