It’s not just trees that burn when the forest burns. Animals that cannot escape die an agonizing death. July sees many of the wild young venturing out with their mothers. They simply cannot move as quickly as the adults and many are lost. Birds that haven’t fledged are lost to fire and those small mammals that dwell in trees or the ground are doomed as well.
People have not been caught in the fire yet this summer, but fatalities among the fire fighters have occurred. Property damage is massive as the fires encroach on settled areas. In BC a particularly destructive fire is burning in the Cariboo at Puntzi Lake. It has destroyed a resort and numerous homes and outbuildings. It’s growth has been exponential since being reported Wednesday at 5 square kilometres. By Friday it had doubled and by Saturday afternoon it was 70 kilometres square and zero percent contained.
For the past week people in the Metro Vancouver area and Vancouver Island have been coping with smoky air from the wild fires. The very young and those with breathing difficulties have been advised to stay indoors with windows and doors shut.
The cost to all the taxpayers in the province is high. In 2014 the people of BC paid $297.9 million to fight the fires. You might say that the fires are natural(from lightning strikes) and we should expect them every year, but there are indications that the fire situation is getting worse across the province. In 2004, according to provincial statistics, the average fire was 58 hectares. In 2014 the average fire had grown to 248.8 hectares.
Is this due to climate change? Is it simply an anomaly? Or this the new normal?
Related from June 2015 - Drought on Vancouver Island ups fire risk
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on Vancouver Island, Canada