Sometime around mid-afternoon on Tuesday, when the Nanaimo Lakes wildfire was estimated at about 131 hectares, its graphic representation on the B.C. Wildfire Service map changed from a red dot to an orange flame. The icon signified that the wildfire had been classified as a ‘fire of note’ because of its visibility and/or threat to public safety.
We remarked that it wasn’t just a dot on the map anymore, and then immediately regretted such a stupid comment. Because when the fire was ‘just’ 107 hectares, it wasn’t just a dot on the map – it was an area already three times the size of Bowen Park burning out of control and spewing enough smoke to impact air quality down in the Cowichan Valley.
Wildfires happen in British Columbia every summer, but one this size, 13 kilometres from Nanaimo, is close enough to be causing unease.
There’s been speculation about the cause, but it’s still under investigation. B.C. Wildfire Service suspects it’s human-caused, and after two other wildfires in the Alberni Valley were sparked by people, it’s no wonder that frustrated firefighters were asking folks this week to “smarten up.”
We don’t know what it must have been like to be on the ground in the Nanaimo Lakes area on Wednesday in 32-degree heat made hotter by fire. We’re grateful for firefighters’ efforts and especially their successes in keeping us safe. It would be a poor way to repay them by selfish choices with cigarettes, campfires or firearms.
Something good that comes from this sort of calamity is that it does show Nanaimo’s sense of community. We’ve heard about lots of offers of help in case the evacuation alert turns into an evacuation order. We’re united against fire – and anyone numb-skulled-enough to carelessly cause one.
Thank you to everyone helping to keep fire at bay, and Nanaimo safe.