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Memories of fires past

As I write this last Monday morning, Prince George is feeling the effects of the forest fires which are ravaging the province, without actually being in any real danger itself.

We are serving as an evacuation centre for people from the Cariboo forced from their homes by the fires, and the outpouring of support, while definitely not unexpected, is still heartwarming.

I was in Vanderhoof some years ago when there were some fires getting fairly close to the community, but the last time I was in a city where there was real danger from fires was in Kamloops.

It was the summer where, at one point, we had three different fires coming towards the city from three different directions. That may sound impossible, given the fact most fires are driven by the wind, but the fire to the west of the city was actually down in the river valley, out of the way of the winds bringing the other fires toward the city from the north and east.

The biggest danger was seen as the fire to the north, which actually caused a fair bit of damage in Barriere. But it could have been worse.

As the fire approached the town, it actually split in two, swinging by the town on either side. The local fire chief was also the publisher of the weekly paper, which was owned by the same company which owned the Kamloops paper I worked at.

A couple of days after the immediate danger had passed, he came down to Kamloops to talk to the company president, based out of our office. He was still dressed in his firefighting red, and I got a picture of him, slumped back in a chair, looking totally exhausted.

It’s a picture I’m sure you could get of a lot of people across the province right now.

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