Sunday, May 22, 2011 | Categories: Episodes
On Cross Country Checkup: Slave Lake fire
After a fire swept through the northern Alberta town last Sunday, many of Slave Lake's seven-thousand evacuated residents are still wondering when they can return. Most left town in a panic-filled rush with nothing. Now some are finding out they have nothing to return to either.
What are your thoughts?
With host Rex Murphy.
My heart goes out to those who have lost so much in this disaster. What I wonder is, can we not do more to prevent forest fires from sweeping into towns and cities in the first place. I only know of a few towns and cities which actively maintain a fire break around them. Should this not come under the jurisdiction of the local fire department, to see that hazards are removed and proper prevention measures have been taken? Perhaps it is time they had the authority to implement safety barriers to help ensure the protection of their cities. This is not the first time this has happened and if we do not take some more preventative measures it could happen again.
Armstrong, British Columbia
There is little use in crying over spilt milk. We must look to the future. We
must plan to minimise the effects of these disasters. Following the disasters at Slave lake and other parts of the world we need to start thinking about completely changing the way we live in more ways than one.
For starters, we should start thinking about how we build our cities. towns, and dwellings. How about constructing all future buildings underground? Underground buildings will not only be fire proof, storm proof, earthquake proof, and flood proof, they will also save a lot energy needed for heating in winter and cooling in summer. In these days of energy shortages and rising energy costs this is a big plus.
In addition, the land freed as a result of building underground could be used for growing food locally, for parks, play grounds, and most importantly, for natural flora and fauna to flourish.
The above are but a very few of the advantages of building and living underground.
Canadians have given generously to world-wide catastrophes such as Haiti and Japan. It didn't take 24 hours re the Slave Lake town's disaster before the Red Cross was front and centre, asking people everywhere to contribute to the needs of those people, and rightly so. We are horrified at their misfortune, and anxious to help.
But my question is: Where's the big country-wide plea for aid to Manitoba flooded farmers? I have heard nothing in this regard, but I'm ready with my money for such a campaign. We can't wait for governments, provincial or federal to get in gear with their promises. This is the third or fourth year of disaster for these people who are losing t heir livelihoods. In many cases that rich top soil will not be there when the water recedes. People of Manitoba need to know that other Canadians care.
Mile Ranch, British Columbia
I have a business devoted to assisting communities in developing and implementing wildfire prevention strategies. We are based out of Invermere, BC, which is a well known hot-spot for forest fuel loading and community development in the wildland/urban interface.
The BC government has committed millions of dollars to wildfire prevention strategies and implementation programs. Every community no matter how large or small should adopt the Firesmart program developed in Alberta by Partners in Protection. This program and its literature is available from the BC and AB governments.
There are so many proven stategies and tools available to protect communities and homeowners. I spend an enormous amount of time on the education process, that most critical first step.
Regards and thoughts to the residents of Slave Lake,
Invermere, British Columbia
I worked on a pipeline project this past winter and stayed in Slave Lake. I don't know how much more of a fire-break you could have had. As I remember, pretty much every approach crosses a highway with wide clearings on each side. I can't see what fire-break could be counted on to protect against 100km winds driving a fire.
I remember seeing video of the Ford dealership with rows of burnt out pickups. These were parked against a concrete wall on a paved lot, about 20 metres from any buildings. There must have been a real inferno to catch these on fire. I'm glad that all were safely evacuated, though it is a shame that a helicopter pilot was lost fighting the fire afterwards.
This didn't impact me directly as I have been out of there over a month ago, but it s a shame for the good people of a good town. They will be back.
I live in Edmonton, and I love Slave Lake. I've camped there most years since we moved to Edmonton in 1996 - it's a charming little town on a magnificent wild lake. It's a place that reconciles me to living away from the ocean, after growing up in New Brunswick. We live a block from the evacuation centre at Northlands in Edmonton, so the aftermath comes close to home.
I just want to encourage people, if they are donating, to consider the animals who need help as well. The Edmonton Humane Society has been driving up and rescuing cats, dogs, reptiles, birds, and little mammals, and reuniting them with their people where they can, and fostering where they can't. They aren't getting any government support for the rescue effort, and as you can imagine, more than 200 animals to be housed and fed and cared for puts a big strain on an organization that is already working at the edge of the available money. Companion animals are so important to so many people - please think about them when you're getting out the credit card.