Joanna Kelly, a barrister in the Kelowna law courts, has been granted permission to appear in legal cases via video-link due to losing her formal clothes and possessions in the devastating wildfires. Joanna and her friend and neighbor, Duncan Vickers, are among the many evacuees in British Columbia’s worst ever wildfire season. The inferno tore through their Okanagan valley community, destroying homes and structures along its path.
As Joanna describes, the fire was intense and blinding, engulfing houses and leaving a trail of destroyed buildings. Duncan, though he lost most of what he owned, including his father’s World War Two medals, remains philosophical and grateful that his family is safe. The danger and risk are still too high for them and other residents to return and begin rebuilding.
One striking aspect of the wildfires is their indiscriminate nature. Some waterfront homes were completely destroyed, while neighboring houses remained unscathed. Residents were forced to watch helplessly via security cameras as their homes burned. Despite the widespread destruction, no lives were lost, thanks to the efforts of local rescue services.
Jason Brolund, the local fire chief, faced dangerous situations on the frontline with his crews. He expressed concern about the increasing fire season, with the team now fighting wildfires from March to November. Many experienced individuals in the field, including Chief Brolund, believe that human activity’s impact on the environment is a significant factor in the rising number of wildfires.
Canada has experienced more than 1,000 wildfires in the past week alone, a record-breaking number. British Columbia’s premier, David Eby, attributes the ferocity and extent of the fires to human-caused climate change and the ongoing drought. While the largest fires have been contained, new fires continue to ignite in the dry forests, posing a significant threat.
The crisis has fostered a stronger bond between the fire crews and the grateful community. People gather at firehouses to cheer on the exhausted firefighters after their long days battling the forest fires. However, the residents of British Columbia are aware that wildfires are likely to become more common in the future.