Most of North America has had a heat wave recently. Temperatures here reached a record 37C, which is about 98 American.
The most I have recorded here before was 35C; records were broken all over the Pacific Northwest. On the first of the hottest three days, a small town in BC called Lytton made an all time Canadian record of 46.6C – and on day 3 it reached 49.6C. Lytton is a small town of around 300 souls, situated at the point where the wet coastal climate suddenly becomes the dry interior.
I don’t know anyone around here who has air conditioning. The only way to deal with the heat was to cover windows with tarps and blankets. My house was so dark I needed artificial light to read.
Normally, when it is hot here, the temperature drops at night and sometimes freezes, but this time it stayed around 12C so we had only an hour or two in the morning to tackle outside work before we had to go inside into the gloom. The mosquitos loved the warm mornings.
And the blackflies loved the hot days outside. By late afternoon it was 30C inside so quite uncomfortable. Perhaps that’s why Global News chose to run this ad…..
The snow went off the mountains very quickly and the river became high and brown again.
And inevitably, BC started to burn.
Lytton, so recently in the news with its record temperatures suddenly exploded into flames. It is thought that the fire was started by a train. Residents had hardly time to flee – the centre of the town was destroyed and at least 2 people died. Their flame icon is just below the K in Kamloops.
I am in the Cariboo area, a little bit west of the capital C. On July1, the fires were far to the south. But smoke was building up in my area.
And the weather forecast had all kinds of alerts.
But the temperatures were at last a bit cooler. The morning of July 2 was surprisingly smoke free and actually cold! 4C. I enjoyed the need to have to wear a sweater (for a few hours) and the brightness of the day. Fireweed was blooming in my rock garden.
And the brown-eyed Susans.
It was still hot enough to put shades up, and it was only after the sun had left the bay window and I was able to open that side, that I saw the sunlight had an orange cast. I rushed outside. A column of smoke rose in the west.
There was no information on the fire websites, but a neighbour told me more or less where it was. The sun went down.
Finally, notification appeared on the BC Wildfire Service’s map. It is that lone diamond in the western area of the Cariboo district. (The pastel shapes around the fires indicate areas of evacuation alert or evacuation order.)
Zoomed in, it looks like this. My place is the pale area to the right of the second Hwy 20 sign. The distance about 6 km.
Google Earth Fire overlay showed this:
Helicopters and a ground crew were already working it, and then came the tankers. There was no good place to get a good view of the work, but I assumed they were dropping retardant. They flew right over my cabin with thunderous roars to return to base.
The following morning, helicopters started at 8.30, and more tanker-loads were dropped. BC Wildfire upgraded our icon to flames because we had become an interface fire – in other words, property was now under threat. There is also a new diamond to the north and west. This is about 10 km north of the Precipice. Readers of Captured By Fire will remember that Fred, from the Precipice, and I wrote of our experiences during the horrific 2017 fires.
Soon more tankers came, that deep growl as they flew over the fire. The bird dog plane, still a good size, could also be heard distinctly. I was amazed how much effort was being put into this fire. Despite all this work, it seemed to be spreading still, and was now 70 hectares according to the Wildfire map. The Wildfire Service also gave out some figures, saying 3 helicopters and two cat teams were working to improve access and build fire guards. No mention was made of planes.
Then, mid afternoon I heard a tremendous racket. Outside I rushed and overhead was a plane I had never seen before. It had a single engine and floats, but was much bigger than a Beaver, and much faster and noisier. It was not alone! Five roared by one after the other. They were so fast it was difficult to get photo.
I googled “firefighting planes with floats,” and found that they were called Fire Bosses – each costing. a million and a half US dollars. This video explains how they work. They were apparently originally designed as crop dusters. They are made in Texas and are very labour consuming, hence their price. They are indubitably fantastic aircraft. They made dozens of trips, all five racing in a line one after the other – I assumed they tanked up on One-Eye Lake. They were really hammering that fire.
But that evening, there was still quite a bit of smoke coming out of it. Jade and I drove around to try and get a good view but it was hard to find a lookout. This is from Clearwater Lake.
The clouds were thundery. There was an occasional shower.
But that kind of rain won’t be much help. And the thunder accompanies lightning, which is very scary.
That evening, BC Wildfire Service put out an evacuation alert for the area. My property is the little square all by itself at the top right.
But even without that, I have started to get things organized in case I have to leave. So far the winds have been fairly light and coming from the north. This is typical thunder weather.
Today has been quiet. Helicopter rattling all day, but no planes. At 6.00:pm Google Earth shows only the centre of the fire has activity. Those planes must have boxed it in really well. We are not out of the woods yet. When the thunder weather quits in a few days, the winds could strengthen, and the lightning could have started more fires. it is only July 4th – super early for us to start a fire season. It is supposed to get hot again, and we will continue to be on tenterhooks until at least mid August.