Fort McMurray Wildfire – Climate or Incompetence?

2016 Fort McMurray wildfire. Large flames and heavy smoke surround congested Highway 63 South.

2016 Fort McMurray wildfire. Large flames and heavy smoke surround congested Highway 63 South. By DarrenRDFile:Landscape view of wildfire near Highway 63 in south Fort McMurray.jpg, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48561288

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The climate vultures are gathering – already attempts are being made to link the out of control Fort McMurray wildfire in Alberta, Canada with “climate change”. But there is something about this disaster which caught my eye – a comment which may hint to a very different reason, why the Fort McMurray wildfire is so out of control.

‘We are in for a rough day’: Fort McMurray wildfire expected to flare up Tuesday afternoon

EDMONTON — The wildfire burning just outside Fort McMurray more than doubled in size Monday evening, and fire crews warned Tuesday’s weather conditions will likely be the greatest challenge yet.

Thick, ominous plumes of smoke filled the sky Monday night. But on Tuesday morning the sky was fairly clear. Officials said that didn’t mean the fire had died down, and explained how an inversion was holding the smoke close to the ground. That was expected to lift in the early afternoon, which is when smoke would begin appearing in the sky again.

“The fire conditions are extreme,” Darby Allen, regional fire chief for the Wood Buffalo municipality, said during an 11 a.m. update Tuesday, talking about how the fire will “wake up.”

The boreal forest is a fire-dependant ecosystem. The spruce trees, pine trees, they like to burn,” Bernie Schmitte, forestry manager in Fort McMurray, explained.

“They have to burn to regenerate themselves, and those species have adapted themselves to fire. Their cones have adapted so they open up after the fire has left, and the trees have adapted in that once they’re old and need to be replaced, they’re available to fire so they burn.”

Schmitte said the southwest corner of the fire was most active and saw the most growth Monday. It was burning in a southwest direction, away from Fort McMurray.

Officials said that as long as it remains safe to do so, firefighters would be working with bulldozers through the night to construct a fire break between the tip of the fire and Highway 63.

Read more: http://globalnews.ca/news/2673945/residents-on-alert-as-three-wildfires-burn-near-fort-mcmurray/

Australians like myself also sometimes face serious risk from wildfires, our forests are also “fire-dependent ecosystems”. It is normal to attempt to cut new emergency firebreaks during a severe fire, to try to prevent further spread. But an emergency firebreak is no substitute for properly maintained firebreaks which were created before the wildfire strikes.

Digging a little deeper;

Alberta’s aging forests increase risk of ‘catastrophic fires’: 2012 report

“Wildfire suppression has significantly reduced the area burned in Alberta’s boreal forest. However, due to reduced wildfire activity, forests of Alberta are aging, which ultimately changes ecosystems and is beginning to increase the risk of large and potentially costly catastrophic wildfires.”

To deal with this threat, the committee proposed expanding fire weather advisories to include potential wildfire behaviour, developing quick-response, firefighting specialists, and doing more work on fire prevention through the province’s FireSmart committee.

The goal was to contain all wildfires by 10 a.m. on the day after it had first been assessed, and before the fire had consumed more than four hectares of forest. This standard is met for the vast majority of Alberta wildfires, but it was not met this week in Fort McMurray.

The panel’s report came in response to Alberta’s unprecedented May 2011 fire season, which culminated in the deadly and costly Slave Lake fire that killed one helicopter pilot and took out 510 homes and buildings costing $700 million. The Alberta government’s Sustainable Resource Development department set up a panel to figure out how to deal with this kind of threat.

The panel pushed for widespread fire bans, forest area closures, and elevated fines during extreme weather.

They wanted to deal with parts of the forest that presented risk because of their location close to town. “Priority should be given to thinning or conversion of coniferous stands, particularly black spruce, which threaten community developments (as identified through strategic analysis of wildfire threat potential).”

They pushed for more staff, and year-round staff. “Advance start times for resources, including crews, equipment and aircraft contracts, to be fully ready for potential early fire seasons. Ensure staff vacancies are filled as soon as possible. Expand work terms to year round for a portion of firefighting crews to support retention and provide capacity for FireSmart initiatives.”

Read more: http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/albertas-aging-forests-increase-risk-of-catastrophic-fires-2012-report

Understaffed, under-resourced forestry workers struggling to contain a growing risk of wildfire, a risk which has been exacerbated by excessive fire suppression causing a buildup of flammables, is a recipe for disaster.

Did Alberta authorities act, and act effectively, on the recommendations of committee? I don’t know the answer to that question. It is possible weather conditions are so severe, even completely reasonable forest safety measures have been overwhelmed by the ferocity of the fire. But if my property and life was directly affected by the current ongoing conflagration, my first question to Alberta authorities would not be “why didn’t you build more wind turbines?”.

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372 thoughts on “Fort McMurray Wildfire – Climate or Incompetence?

  1. I just had to de-friend someone on Facebook for merely pondering that this is Mother Nature’s reply to the tar sands. Who needs people like that in your life? She also didn’t like it when I asked if the recent earthquakes in Japan were revenge for Godzilla…

    • In my experience, those who talk the most about Gaia are amongst the first to ridicule others who happen to believe in the traditional Gods.

      • Just like when the finch landed on Bernie’s podium the idiots said it was a sign from mother nature.

      • The Athabasca Tar Sands occupy an area the size of Three times Denmark, e.g., 141 000 sq. km. The soil contains a stunning 1.7 trillion barrels of oil and it only goes Down about 400 m, from the surface. Please don’t light a fire here….
        What we are witnessing is an eco-catastrophe, where a Natural surface oil reservoir is taking fire. It may burn for months..

      • @ Martin Hovland, I seriously doubt that a forest fire will “ignite” the Tar sands, ( they stretch from Northern Alberta to the East for a thousand miles and are not close to Fort McMurray) and BTW at 1.7 trillion barrels of oil I guess we haven’t reached “peak oil” just yet ( Don’t forget the reserves in Venezuela and so on) And “eco-catastrophe (?) Please educate your self these kind of Boreal fires have been happening for centuries all across not only Canada but Siberia as well.

      • Martin, what you suggest is utter drivel. The oil sands is a mixture of water, sand, and petroleum. It is incapable of combustion under natural circumstances.

        Michael, ‘tar sands’ is technically incorrect. There’s no tar in the oil sands. Tar is a petroleum extract. What is in the oil sands is a mixture of oil, sand and petroleum.

      • cgh

        May 7, 2016 at 6:12 pm

        A little idea that came when reading your piece – many thanks! Possibly a little off-thread, but I’ll throw it in anyway.

        We are all familiar with the sudden end of the last glacial maximum11/12/13 thousand years ago.
        May a [amongst others, obviously] tipping factor have been a very large forest fire?
        Much soot blown north onto border icelands, with melts the following summer . . . .

        If a Polar High, plainly not blown north. But – could it be?

        Maybe?

        Obviously not one with some causes in the watermelons’ dislike for little fires, so allowing brush and under-storey to grow to make a big – or Very Big – Fire an absolute certainty.

        But – as you note, this sort of fire predates a lot – even genus Homo, I guess, so it’s not SUVs NOR our cuddly world-dominating watermelons.

        But – could it be a possible factor?
        No doubt someone vastly more knowledgeable than your present interlocutor will give references where this has been considered.
        I hope so.

        cgh – again, thanks for the You Reeker moment.

        Auto

      • Auto,

        All of the many glacial terminations over the past 2.6 million years show a similar pattern and timing. Even the ends of the shorter glacial episodes for the first roughly 1.4 million years of the Pleistocene resemble those of the longer cycles of the past 1.2 million years or so.

      • Is it really? What’s wrong with “tar”? Sure, it sounds “dirtier” than oil, but it also better captures the stickiness and viscosity of the stuff. If we want to be pedantic about it, we should probably use the term “bituminous sands.”

      • No, I am not opposed to accuracy; in fact, I am very much in favour of it. Precisely for that reason, I am opposed to hijacking plain language words such as “oil” and “tar”, imposing some technical definition on them, and then demanding that everyone abide by that definition henceforth and in eternity. If you want accuracy, bring your own, unoccupied technical terms, such as “bitumen”.

      • Michael – the problem with “tar” is that there is no tar contained or produced from the oil sands and indeed it is bitumen and closer to asphalt if your are looking for a similar look a like but as David sez what is wrong with accuracy & especially so when the greens & Obozo try so hard to portrait Fort Mac as hell on earth and the ultimate rape of the planet.

      • Venezuela has tar sands, API<10 heavy oil. Alberta has bitumen sands. There are no volitiles left, and the dilbit has to be hydro upgraded to be refinable. The resulting crude oil is synthetic.

      • They are oil sands, NOT tar. If it were tar, we would no longer be able to refine and produce usable fuels for transportation. If you want to insult them call it tar, as the environmentalists intentionally do. Note, to be tar the substance has to be heated to high temperatures and then becomes suitable for the road construction. I guess the greenies want to go back to dirt roads too since cement production also releases a lot of CO2.
        I worked and lived in Fort McMurray in the late 70’s on a new project,for a year, the neighborhood where my family lived is destroyed, and it saddens me that so many are put out of their homes and possibly their jobs with the fire. The people up there look at the project as cleaning up the mess that nature left. l fished on the banks of the Athabasca river and the oil was oozing onto the banks and collecting on your shoes.

        I met and worked with many fine people on that project.
        “Tar is a black mixture of hydrocarbons and free carbon[1] obtained from a wide variety of organic materials through destructive distillation.[2][3][4] Tar can be produced from coal, wood, petroleum, or peat.[4] Production and trade in pine-derived tar was a major contributor in the economies of Northern Europe[5] and Colonial America. Its main use was in preserving wooden vessels against rot. The largest user was the Royal Navy. Demand for tar declined with the advent of iron and steel ships.”

      • Bitumen is basically tar as in roads and parking lots. But I think it is a distinction without much of a difference here.

      • CaligulaJones on May 6, 2016 at 7:34 am
        I just had to de-friend someone on Facebook for merely pondering that this is Mother Nature’s reply to the tar sands.

        So why is that highly important experts definition anslaught not combated on the proper place: Facebook.

      • I have to agree with Mr Palmer on this one. Like it or not we have been calling the area the Athabasca Tar Sands for generations. It wasn’t until Ezra Levant decided “oil” sounds marginally better than “tar” that the new vernacular appeared. I consider it an “own-goal” that so many get all bent out of shape over a term that has been used for so long.

      • Sorry True Northist. Look up “AOSTRA” It was and is called Oil Sands and many of us in Alberta have worked directly or indirectly on projects up there including me for 40+ years. NEVER ONCE did I hear it called “Tar Sands” but what the heck, I have only been around for 7 decades. Well, let me correct that. The US media, politicians and uneducated environmental types do use those words. You can probably find instances of the use of “Tar Sands” to make me wrong. I am simply stating my experience in engineering and I NEVER heard it called Tar Sands – always oil sands.

        I’ll save you some trouble:

        AOSTRA was formed in 1974 – Alberta Oil Sands Technology and Research Authority.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberta_Oil_Sands_Technology_and_Research_Authority

        http://www.ogj.com/articles/print/volume-92/issue-28/in-this-issue/drilling/aostra-field-tests-prove-up-oilsands-sagd-production-method.html

      • Tar is a derivative of petroleum. Do you refer to your cat or dog as a steak? A steak can be derived from a pet, but that doesn’t mean that that is all that they are or can be. Agreed that it should be bitumen sands. But then people will say “huh, what’s bitumen?”. The reason the bitumen is mined is to crack it and get the oil out. Hence, oil sands.

        Upon the next glaciation, a large amount of bitumen will be scraped up by the ice and spread all over the western prairies and down as far south as the terminal moraine (likely near South Dakota). If you don’t want it scattered by the ice, let us mine it.

      • A much better term would be “very heavy oil sands”. The ones east of Edmonton being lighter oil – probably now flowing to the US Gulf Coast, and there’s whatever is in Venezuela that refineries on the US Gulf Coast have been importing.
        (Bituminous is a technical term not understood by most people.)

    • The work camps at the oil sands were a refuge for 25,000 of the 88,000 people who had to flee the fire. The work camps also have air strips that are being used to bring in supplies and fly refugees out as the Fort McMurray airport is closed down. The oil companies will be a big part of the re-building of Fort McMurray after the fire.

      By the way, firebreaks are of NO USE in a fire this size. It jumped the river, it jumped the highway, it was raining embers. See link at the end of this post.

      I created a combustible free zone around my farm house earlier this year due to the lack of moisture and obvious fire risk. However, if the forest around me, a 100 metre fire break will not necessarily stop my house from burning, though I do have a fire pump and a pond beside my house to hose it down in an emergency.

      In an urban area like Fort McMurray, once the embers rain down and ignite the shingles on one house, whole neighbourhoods will burn with no way to stop it.

      The climate issue is irrelevant. I have seen this type of weather many times in my nearly 70 years out here. Others may blame it on climate, for me it is just weather and a consistent meridonal jet stream that has kept precipitation away from our region. Like in 2003 when I got 20 large round bales off a field I normally get 400+. And I can go all the way back to my grand parents stories – same cycles over and over again.

      http://cjme.com/article/626716/dash-cam-video-shows-terrifying-drive-out-fiery-fort-mcmurray-evacuees

      Also this:

      https://achemistinlangley.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/on-forest-fires-climate-activist-arent-just-insensitive-they-are-also-wrong/

      • Note: It could take up to 10 billion dollars to reconstruct things. It may be the largest insured disaster Canada has had. It will impact insurance rates in all of Canada and beyond. I already pay a huge premium on my remote house in the boreal forest due to fire risk so it will get worse – for everyone as the insurance companies will spread the risk.

      • Wouldn’t surprise me if the enviro-wackos had this in mind.
        Make it too expensive for ordinary people to live anywhere except the cities.
        Leave the wilderness for the enviro-wackos who have no property to ensure and the super rich.

      • I have to disagree with you. Fire breaks will work if built to purpose. When discussing protecting a city, 100m seems a little silly doesn’t it. Make it a mile, or make it 2. Just keep it combustible free.

      • I would suggest a roof ridge sprinkler system fed by your pond. Just turn it on and let the water spray out and gently cascade down slope

      • Actually, in areas susceptible to freeze/thaw ice dams (my SO’s north Georgia mountains, my Wisconsin dairy farm, my sisters north central Washington horse/cattle 690 acre ranch) new metal roofs are greatly to be preferred. They slide snow/ ice/ water off and do not ice dam. Roof upgrades are there for a reason. Oh, and metal roofs shed embers. They never conflagrate. We have the tech. We do not use it enough. Sort of like nuks and electricity.

      • To Jeff in Calgary:

        It is very hard to maintain an effective firebreak. You can cut the trees for two miles but I have seen fires that rain down burning branches two metres (7 feet) long and 5 to 8 cm (two to three inches) in diameter up to 5 kilometres from the fire and starting spot fires along the way. Also a firebreak with with dead grass doesn’t work as a grass fire with wind moved incredibly fast. However, if you do have a large area that you can dispense earth movers and dozers into without a lot of trees it can work, but only if you also insist on fire resistant construction. In Nordegg, a community in Clearwater county in the boreal forest, cement board siding or equivalent, metal roofs, fire resistant landscaping and at least one metre of gravel around the base of the house is a requirement. Not exactly your normal urban development specifications.

        In Fort McMurray, you will see standard non-resistant construction. In videos you can see the melting vinyl siding, bushes and landscaping in the front yards bursting into flame as the embers landed on them and the the dry grass. No one would anticipated this in an urban setting.

        With a hot fire like this one, even two miles of tilled earth may not have saved everything although it would have been easier to fight and till up a firebreak with say a few planted groves of trees that could be worked around.

        Many politicians/bureaucrats don’t like the idea/look of metal roofs and fire resistant siding instead of the standard asphalt shingles and siding. However, I would hope they would rethink things after this fire and require fire resistant siding and roofing (many types besides metal) for any housing near the boundary of the community.

        Speaking of fire resistance, in Calgary and Edmonton in some of the dense developments, fire resistant siding is already a requirement to prevent house to house fire spread.

        Here is a Google Earth image showing how far branches went in one out of control fire I observed. I was in a boat on the lake with branches dropping out of the sky around me:

      • Shucks, distance didn’t display. A little over 5 km from the fire site on the mountain on the west to the spot on the lake where I was fishing.

      • Fort McMurray had a natural firebreak – it’s called the Athabasca River. Check it out on Google Maps – it is nearly 1 km across. The fire jumped it. For a fire of this size and intensity, the only firebreak that would work is a mountain above the tree line.

      • Need a brick house with insulated steel roof, aluminum framed windows aluminum soffit and facias, and steel fire proof doors.

      • Firebreaks are of use.
        Granted they don’r stop anything but the smallest fires.

        Quite some time back fires were threatening the town of Kalgoorlie.
        An 80m wide fire break was cut north of the town but smouldering rabbits were spreading the fire south of the firebreak.

        However firebreaks do provide access and boundaries from which you can fight the fire.

      • The Aussie experience is keeping everything wet at the closest approach should allow a small firebreak (100ft or so from memory) to prevent your house burning down, but you need a good water pump.

        Worst case, if you are caught in a fire and the sprinkler system fails, stay indoors. Your house will catch fire, but houses are built to be fire resistant. By the time the house fire becomes life threatening, outside conditions will have cooled down enough so you can survive leaving the house.

      • Yep. Fires follow physics. Plume driven fires vs. terrain/local wind. All fires are dependent on fuel and its arrangement (easy course S-190). Weather vs. climate – 1 hour fuels, 10 hr., 100 hr., 1000 hr etc. Trapping a city is self created incompetence. Flat terrain vs rugged steep. Spotting may occur 1 mile or more in advance of a plume driven fire. A 250 ft tall Ponderosa Pine ‘torching’ may spot 3/4 mile. I know nothing about these Boreal forests and its fire history. California has a library full of the past 100 years Man-Interface wild-land fire. The solutions are not politically viable. There is no compromise within physics. 1970 a Great Aunt 93 years old, living in Hollywood since 1912, during my visit there asked ‘why are those hills void of houses? Answer – ‘Oh, those hills burn all the time’. In 2000 those hills are full of houses.

      • As a volunteer firefighter I can tell you firebreaks of any size are a help. They give you a bare area to backburn breaks rather than using water which is less effective, time consuming and wasteful of water which may be in short supply. More forest fires are stopped by back-burning than any other method.
        Most breaks won’t stop a wildfire head on but can be enough to stop a fire on the edges where the fire is less intense.

        Towns and cities surrounded by forest need a buffer of forest that is regularly burned to reduce fuel load. If a fire enters this buffer it is easier to control and produces less embers.

    • Time to run your lawnmower over your finger toys !

      Don’t need to do any unfriending, if you don’t do any friending in the first place.

      Why not take up knitting or crochette.

      But I do have to say that your comeback to the unfriendly, is priceless !

      G

    • Remember the fire in the southwest and there they prohibited people from taking dead wood dus in time will accumulate and it takes a spark to destroy a forest and take the lives of courages fire fighters! Congress shuold initiate an investigation to see who is behind this autrage!

      • That’s easy. Look to your local “Greens”. They will have opposed fuel reduction burns “without the proper safeguards”. They then make those “safeguards” impossible to comply with and the burns can never get organised.

        Among the safeguards you will find things like;
        1/ Something about the number of firefighters who have to be in attendance.
        2/ Representatives from a wildlife Department in case of displaced animals.
        3/ Representatives of Natives/Archaeological groups to ensure “Sacred sites” are not damaged.
        4/ A “Greens” representative to make sure that the various departments are doing it right.
        5/ An Arboreal specialist to advise on the trees.
        etc
        etc

        It all sounds quite reasonable until you understand that it’s almost impossible to get all these people in the same place at the same time to actually do the burn. Even harder since the actual burn days are decided by natural conditions that we have no control over and so organising the people involved has to be done in a couple of days at the most.

        2 days to organise 20 bureaucrats from 10 departments to go bush and watch a fire? Good luck with that.

        Meanwhile the Greens walk away from responsibility (as usual) claiming that they “Don’t oppose fuel reduction burns”. Doublespeak at its finest.

    • Just wait until Fukushima’s radiation on the hidden baby Godzillas bears fruit! Another 20 years of bad Japanese movies.

    • ahha too funny. I remember when the quite normal fires were raging in New South Wales, Australia, 2013 I think, that mad woman Christina Figueres.[ UN Climate convention ] said this was carbon revenge for Australia, or similar. I looked up her credentials. Her rise within through her stupidity and arrogance was from Nepotism in Costa Rica. She is another SJW., I mean a Climate change warrior.

    • Interesting article by Stephen Hume today, puts things in perspective, with examples such as the following:

      In 1919, the biggest forest fire in recorded Canadian history swept through Alberta’s boreal forest just south of where Fort McMurray now suffers. That fire burned through 30,000-square-kilometres of timber and razed Lac La Biche, the town now providing safe haven for evacuees from the north.

      The fire began near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. It blackened an area the size of Belgium. Like the fires of 2016, it began in early May following a dry winter. Constable Fred Moses of the Alberta Provincial Police, out on a murder investigation, reported a Dante’s Inferno. Smoke was so dense it was dark in the afternoon, the horizon pulsed with fire-generated lightning and new blazes ignited everywhere down the fire front.

      Telegraph cables melted, molten copper ran down scorched poles. In Lac La Biche, people rushed into the lake, stood neck deep in the water and covered their heads with wet blankets while their town burned.

  2. Any attempt to sustain is unsustainable. If you like, you may generalize this beyond forests.
    =============

      • Yet it will end very badly indeed when he stops exhaling CO2. So much for CO2 being a problem, it’s essential for living! You just try breathing in without breathing out. Hopeless. Lack of CO2 makes life unsustainable, someone should tell the Apocalyptics.

    • What’s needed here is (obviously!) regular, tactical LOGGING. Double-Darwin-DUH!!!

      • NO! We need more strip mining to rid us of those evil birch trees bringing on Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming. It’s those greenies protecting the forests that are dooming the planet, Remember what wood does really well is BURN!

  3. There ARE two things that can be done to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires in the face of decades of fire suppression.

    1: Sustainable logging in the form of thinning. Forests that have undergone decades of fire suppression are generally much thicker with more trees per acre than forests that are left alone to naturally burn. There should be a program of thinning out the trees rather than massive clear cutting in areas where this is logistically possible.

    2. Small clear cuts to emulate small fire meadows. One side effect of fire suppression is that the species that depend on the meadow environment created by smaller lightning strike fires are finding a lack of suitable habitat. Rather than clear cutting hundreds of acres at a time, smaller clear cuts of tens of acres allow a mixed woodland / meadow environment providing a more diverse mix of species closer to a natural wild environment.

    Even the above won’t completely emulate a natural environment because the ash from fires returns nutrients to the soil in soluble form that the plants can use immediately. One would need to burn the “slash” from the logging and apply the ashes to the ground. Also, the carbon from ash is very stable and acts as carbon sequestration. One can dig into areas and find charcoal from fires centuries ago. Fires act to turn carbon in the wood to a very stable state that can remain in the soil for centuries after the tree that removed the carbon from the air has burned. Simply chipping the material and leaving it to decompose on the forest floor takes much longer to return the nutrients to the ecosystem and the carbon gets released during decomposition.

    Bottom line is that in order to reduce the damage from wildfires while still maintaining decent habitat in the face of fire suppression, we would need to end our war on logging and change the nature of it to a less intensive sustainable logging practice. This practice is probably better suited for smaller local logging operations than for huge industrial scale logging.

    • An overly thick forest means too many trees competing for the same amount of water, sunshine, and nutrients. Forest management up till now has been “no logging, no fires” which has lead to overly thick forests. We can either thin the forests as @crosspatch points out, or watch ALL OF THEM feed beetles and/or burn.

      • Well there is always ” tree farming “.

        If you plant the right kinds of conifers on the right row centers, they will cutoff the sun from the ground, at some chosen Christmas tree height, and then proceed to grow as Christmas tree topped telephone poles, sans branches below the tree.

        Finally can clear cut and repeat cycle.

        G

        Old growth forests, are carbon neutral, besides being fire traps. (at which point the cease being carbon neutral.)

    • One more thing…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1IyIbs3Qo0
      Mulch the forest into wood chips. Use some of the chips to drive a pyrolysis or gasification unit to extract the charcoal, tar, turpentines, and other flammable fluids from the rest of the wood chips. Recycle the gases to the burners to conserve on the wood burned, and package and sell the products.
      You should be able to clear cut a safety zone around all inhabited areas this way, although I doubt you could ever reduce the Alberta Forest to a grassland this way – the trees will come back too fast.

    • When I was young my family would vacation at Lake Arrowhead in the San Bernadino mountains (about 60 East of L. A.). This was back in the early ’60s. We stayed in a little cabin  in Cedar Glen. I would hike down to Deep Creek to fish almost every day. High granite slabs with pines jutting out everywhere on one side, hills covered in pines on the other. A pristine creek ranging from 2-3 feet wide to pools 20 feet deep and 20-50 feet long and wide. Rainbow trout native enough to be wary of shadows and noise.  Almost nobody else was ever there. It was heaven.

      Then came the fires of 2011 (or maybe 2012) that roared through the entire area, including the little town of Blue Jay (on the South side of the lake) and the *very* expensive area on the North side. Those homes and the entire area surrounding them was razed. Blue Jay was almost wiped out and area where that cabin was (called “The Hole” by the locals due to it being ~700 feet below the waterline of the lake) was burned to the ground along with about 400 large homes and small cabins. All of Deep Creek, which runs to the East and below the lake was denuded and destroyed. 

      The cause?  The Forest Service’s absolute refusal to clear out deadwood  and undergrowth for decades due to the insane policy of the California Greens. The slightest match or cigarette could have darted the fire. Everybody with any brains, which was 90% of the population of the area, had been screaming  at the top of their lungs for years and were simply ignored. 

      God bless those poor folk in Alberta. Hope the Leftists up there come to their senses (but I’m not gonna hold my breath).

      God Damn the Green Blob.

      • Don’t worry, in 3 years the leftist government will be toast. But is seams, even right wing governments are susceptible to lobbying by the Green Blob….

    • Logging leaves a bunch of deadwood and debris which makes excellent tinder for fires. Thinning or selective logging leaves debris mixed with mature trees. You need regular controlled burnoffs to consume the forest litter and clear out the understory.

      • Ian – have you been into a logged off area, pre-prepared for subsequent tree planting – in the last say 10 years? Partially buried rotting wood making bedding for new growth is not easily ignited. Even in selectively logged areas it is a requirement to manage litter is. Current forestry practices are pretty darn good, at least in western Canada.

        With all the mulching equipment and soil mixing, the material in logged ares is actually rather fire resistant.

        Want to start a campfire? Go break of some of the dead lower branches of some pine trees. You can make a great fire from that. Not so much from the logging detris. At least that is my experience. Around the farm I use diesel fire starter to clean up my dead wood burn piles because it is hard to ignite and keep burning. I burn several dead wood cords a year (plus 4 to 6 cords of seasoned wood in my fireplace to heat my house.)

        Dry spring grass on the other had is scarily flammable, even if it is only a fraction of an inch long. I make a firebreak around my house every spring and wet it down as I live on the edge of crown land in the boreal forest. Dry pastures can burn very quickly and ignite the trees. So I keep the area around my house damp until new green growth is well established.

    • All great suggestions crosspatch. I’ve lived in a second growth redwood forest for 40 years and even though redwoods aren’t prone to fire, it has happened recently due mostly to the apex hardwood forest that’s grown up over the 100+ years since the redwoods were clearcut in 1898. Those trees have been dying as they’ve been crowded out over the past 50 or so years and now they’re plentifully intermixed with the redwoods and the redwoods themselves (which grow like weeds BTW) are at least 3 times more dense than they would be in a “natural” forest.

      The result is we’ve created a tinderbox ready to go off at any time. We need to send in foresters to cut out the dying hardwoods and thin the redwoods, but the State (California) has no mandate to license and plenty of pressure from ignorant city dwelling “environmentalists” to resist any attempt to fix the problem. So the forests will no doubt burn, entire ecosystems will be destroyed, and the devastation that occurred due to logging a hundred years ago will be repeated.

      It’s very sad when public policy is based on moonbeams and unicorn farts.

  4. You might want to highlight the following lines from the Edmonton Journal article as well:

    Alberta’s aging forest puts our communities at ever greater risk of wildfires, said the Alberta government’s expert committee on containing wildfires.

    In 1971, more than half of Alberta’s boreal forest was deemed to be young, with about a third immature, five per cent mature and a small portion deemed “overmature”.

    By 2011, that had changed to less than 10 per cent young, about a quarter immature, more than 40 per cent mature, and more than 20 per cent overmature.

    “Before major wildfire suppression programs, boreal forests historically burned on an average cycle ranging from 50 to 200 years as a result of lightning and human-caused wildfires,” the panel found in a report released in 2012.

    This really hits the nail on the head, aging forests have become a big issue in Alberta and it has been making disasters like the one going on by Fort McMurray inevitable. As a resident of Alberta it has become pretty clear that forest management practices are the main driver behind fires like the one going on in Fort McMurray and not climate change.

    • For decades the real forest nazis in Alberta were the Parks Canada officials in the Rocky Mountains. God help you if you cut down a tree or cleared out the underbrush. $10Gs fines. After the fires that occurred around the turn of the 21st C across the upper western states devastated everything–millions of acres burned–the Park nazis along with their US counterparts started to take a different look at it.

      The CAN Park nazis found archival photos taken in 1890 (or so) in an old library file in Jasper, AB. The photos documented Indian management of the land. Areas surrounding Jasper showed savannas instead of the then current dense forest. That shocked them; they had never seen that before. The photos showed how the Indians cleared vast acreages of land around the town of Jasper and up the mountainsides on a regular and rotating basis for two reasons, controlling fire and protecting the animals. They showed how the Indians cleared the forest floor down to the dirt, maintained five feet between tree trunks, and kept the lower branches of mature trees at least 10 feet from the ground. This allowed the elk to move easily through the forest without getting their antlers stuck on everything. The photos showed that the Indians culled the pine (can shoot embers two miles) but left the fir (mature fir can withstand forest fires).

      The Park nazis did a 180 and asked the lumber companies to come and take all the pine they wanted, for free. They decreed metal roofs for cottages, and if you refused, fine, but their firefighters wouldn’t bother to save your house. Ground-cover like juniper had to go; it was “gasoline.”

      Etc etc.

      So I suspect that the provincial northern Alberta fire greenies are going to get a talking to from the former nazis in the park.

    • We should however concede that CO2 fertilisation has enhanced forest growth and has probably made proper fire management more critical.

    • Exactly. I’m really surprised they admitted that – and certainly glad they did.

    • They have been in power for just one year now. Their course may or may not be wisely chosen, but this problem has clearly been festering for much longer.

      As an immigrant to Canada, I would say generally that public spending is generally wasteful, and all levels of government deliver poor value for the tax dollar. It’s not limited to Alberta, and it’s not limited to Conservative, Liberal, or NDP governments either.

      • Odd. Slave lake fire wasn’t a problem. You seem to be full of misleading information.

      • Alberta only budgets for the fixed costs of the fire fighting operation. The cost as if there were no fires or just a few dozen.

        They can spend up to $1.0B in a bad year so it is not the best way to budget for the program but it let’s them produce a “budget” with a lower deficit even though there is already an in-built pressure approaching $1.0B the day it is presented.

        Lots of other government jurisdictions do something similar as in low-balling the costs up-front. Most do in fact.

    • The real problem is not the firefighting. Firefighting causes worse forest senescence which requires better firefighting in a vicious spiral that man will eventually lose – as evidenced this week in Fort Mac. a century of steadily improving firefighting (getting the fire “out by 10am”) has made Alberta’s boreal forests long overdue for burning. A solution must be found that employs some combination of selective logging and controlled burns. I speak as a co-owner of a lovely summerhouse in the foothills of Alberta that will burn some day if my family and my neighbours don’t get their act together and renew the forest.

  5. The Green Blob pushes for “let forests be natural” but doesn’t seem to get it that the natural state of forests is burning…

    Put the fires out, you must do logging and thinning or fuel builds to very UN-natural levels. Ban logging, and put out fires, eventually the fuel load is so great it becomes an unstoppable monster.

    Califonia lost a huge chunk of Yosemite Park re-learning that lesson a few decades back.

    Absolutely nothing to do with Climate Change, though hot dry weather determines the timing of the lesson… every summer in California.

      • That was the fire I was thinking of. Last time I was in Yellowstone, the major wildfire had just occurred. The park rangers mentioned how good it was. I bet if it happened today, the park rangers would say it is climate change.

      • I bet if it happened today, the park rangers would say it is climate change.

        No doubt you are correct. That’s how bad this delusional brain infection of blaming everything deemed ‘ungood’ on man’s evil actions has gotten.

      • Some confusion here. The great fire in Yellowstone was 1988. Yosemite re -introduced controlled burning in 1970’s aware of the risks as Yellowstone was not. The Rim fire of 2013 , the biggest in recent California history, started outside the park. The natural history of arboreal fire has long been known and ignored the world over with inevitable consequence. Fortunately rare in London my concern is that Yosemite and Yellowstone are to me the most loved places on earth.

      • The same thing happened at Mesa Verde National Park around the millennium.

        “Over the last fourteen years, five large wildfires have burned in Mesa Verde National Park. Just over 28,750 acres (more than 50 percent of the park) burned within park boundaries in these fires.”

        All five fires were started by lightning.

  6. Easy google. NDP cut the Alberta forest fire budget significantly in 2015 despite the 2012 warnings. So the inevitable is happening.

    • Do you have any evidence that the response to this fire has been reduced from what it otherwise would have been? Does the forest wait until budget cuts before deciding to burn? Does a reduced budget make a fire more likely? I am not convinced that the act of simply budgeting more money makes a fire less likely, particularly when such budget increases are generally soaked up by salary increases for personnel.

      • Crosspatch since the NDP cut the budget by 80% I would imagine the cuts had some effect.

      • yes, they do wait to burn, if you don’t maintain fire lines in and around these over grown spruce forests a rather small and insignificant fire can quickly get out of control … it has nothing to do with response, everything to do with forest management.

      • crosspatch on May 6, 2016 at 7:57 am
        Do you have any evidence that the response to this fire has been reduced from what it otherwise would have been?

        So it’s clear the deeper insights are to be found on Facebook with profound majority.

      • I believe that the situation was made much worse by Leonardo DiCaprio since he discovered the Chinook link to #ClimateChange™, causing high winds and intensifying the fires.

      • Geoff,
        Take it from someone who lives in the most fire-prone nation on earth, that the first thing that happens as the forestry budget is cut is that forest maintenance, particularly fuel reduction burns are done far less frequently. This reduces cost but results in a major intensity increase in the energy a fire generates. Once a fire generates its own weather (wind) it is exponentially harder to stop. This is what devastated Canberra a few years ago. Do the back-burns and forest fires can’t get to that sort of energy level, don’t do then an eventually a firestorm is going to happen. Of course such high energy fires kill forests while low intensity fires renew them.

        Also if you live in the “Bush” you need at least 200m of relatively clear space, not to eliminate the ember rain, but rather to allow you space and time to mount a defence, by damping down everything. Some green dominated councils here in Australia took that down to 6m – No time or space to mount ANY sort of defence, lots of people died as a result.

    • There is a valid point that this fire was the result of budget cuts. The contracts for the water bombers are usually negotiated in the winter for the up coming fire season. If the budget was cut as much as was reported in the paper then the first response would have not been there or even set up yet to attack a fire when it is first reported. The old saying in the fire industry is to get big fast before the fire does. I have not seen any pictures of water bombers been used on this fire. The only aerial response was a few helicopters with water buckets and that was after two days. Another wildfire in Kelowna BC 5 years ago got out of hand because the “Greeners” running the response to it were fighting it in an environmentally way and they let the fire get out of control by not hitting it as hard as you could when it was smaller. The fire was stopped across the street from my sisters house on the south edge of West Bank by finally letting the water bombers attack it. What is even more ridiculous about the Kelowna fire is the lake the fire was burning beside is the Okanagan that is perfect for water bombers to operate out of. On a side note the Department of Transport Canada shutdown Buffalo Airways out of Yellowknife in March of this year for Documentation problems and two crashes involving some of their older airplanes. Buffalo Airways is of the Ice Pilots fame on the Discovery channel. Unfortunately when you fly 80 year old air craft in the conditions that they did things break and planes crash. No lives were lost in either crashes. So why is this relevant Buffalo Airways also operates 60% of the water bomber fleet in western Canada and they are grounded as a result of the shutdown.

      • Good comment. During my time in Fort McMurray, the air attack group stationed there would vary with the threat – from nothing to a couple of A26s and a couple of CL215s or a DC4, with a bird dog of course. The retardant tank and dedicated apron are permanent. The Forestry Service allocates the air resources on contract as effectively as possible

        I did read “somewhere” – so take this for what it is worth – that there was one water bomber attacking the McMurray fire on day 1. Not “get big fast”.

    • Good stuff, betapug, but it won’t stop the climate alarmists from blaming this wildfire on climate change. Obviously, Fort McMurray, according to the weather record, is not subject to any change in its climate for decades. The climate classification is sub-polar, but borderlines on a humid continental climate. Its annual average temperature is 1 degree C. It was a cold place 30 years ago, and it still is, and will remain to be so for a very long time, I imagine.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_McMurray#Climate

    • Western Canada is mostly relatively dry. Many of our record high temps occurred in the 1930’s. Some years we get snowy winters followed by wet summers, some years we get little snow followed by little rain. Still other years are kinda so-so. Go figure! The math around this variability says some years will be dry. There must have been moisture in previous years because there’s about a billion trees there! Now you know all there is to know about climate\weather in the boreal forest.

    • Well I can see your problem, beta pug…

      You’ve got to have the scale zoomed in so you can see hundredths of a degree C and then plot this as anomalies! Boy oh boy, then you’ll see the catastrophic warming!!!!!!!!!!

  7. I have an idea!! Why not allow private ownership of the land?
    If I owned the land, or if you owned the land, we’d make darn sure that we created and maintained firebreaks and otherwise managed our forests. It is nonsense to say that the state ownership ensures stewardship of the land.

    • Add to your idea … have the feds buy up big tracts of land throughout the east coast and finance by selling off huge tracts in the west (don’t sell all, maybe 50%).

      Tell the eastern States that the land will be equitably managed and income will be produced to offset the loss in property tax, (and other lost States revenue). Even lease back to adjacent local folks the rights to use portions of the property.

      After a few years (long enough for the local governments to become dependent on the federally managed revenue stream) and all is settled, change the management scheme to eliminate the revenue stream, but go ahead and make stipend/replacement payments to the local governments instead. Then after a few more years reduce and then eliminate the payments to the local governments.

      At the same time begin to reduce and redefine the lease rights (when the people that have become dependent on the lease rights and can’t sustain their small neighboring private properties, the feds can then purchase those properties as well … or they can be bought cheaply by their large private neighbors).

      Do this throughout the country (especially near large metropoltian areas) so that everyone can have first hand experience with nonsense associated with State stewardship of the lands.

  8. Did I read this right? They proposed policies that would increase the potential amount of fuel for a fire? And then they half-assed it? …That strikes me as a way to make a large catastrophic fire more likely, even if the chances of a fire occurring go down.

  9. I have been expecting the AGW side to claim this fire as proof of their cause.

    However, I lived through the Ash Wednesday bush fires in Victoria Australia in 1982. Lo and behold another super El Nino year. The weather conditions that brought those devastating fires were extreme for weeks if not months leading up to the fires of that summer. Every week there were several extremely hot dry north wind events. The normally damp rain forests of the Otway ranges and southern slopes of the Victorian Alps in Gippsland were so dry they were ready to go up in flames.

    You can not claim this was caused by global warming. It was a natural weather pattern (El Nino) that caused the right conditions for this type of fire event. There have been many historic fires in the past around the world which also saw similar extreme weather events leading up to the fires. All naturally occurring. So what is different about this one? It occurred in a period of heightened awareness of AGW and it burnt a major town. It has not rained significantly in Edmonton since last summer due to persistent weather patterns. El Nino’s cause more meridional aligned jet streams and therefore more persistent weather patterns. There lies your answer to background of this fire.

    http://edmonton.weatherstats.ca/charts/precipitation-1year.html

    • Interesting comment here! El Nino in 2015, the previous big one in 1998. We had typical post El Nino weather in the mid 80’s and I always assumed that around 1980 or 1981 must have been another major “El Nino. Temp records I have seen show no trace of a major El Nino in the early 80’s but a cycle of approximately 16-17 years might be worth investigation. Three cycles like that back would be the early to mid 30’s when we know it was dry and many temp records were set which still stand. If this cycle proves out it could help us to understand longer term patterns or trends in the weather as well as providing helpful information for water, forest and agricultural management. Do these signals show up around the mid 60’s or late 40’s?

  10. The European Union ( and others ) are throwing money at Ukraine, great, But !! sitting in a warehouse in Kiev is the second Antonov An225 ( still to be completed ) with a take-off weight of over 640 tonnes that amounts to a sky full of water, if the Australian Gov, idiots ( and others ) that have bush fire problems were to help the now closed Antonov Co. workers by finishing the worlds largest plane as a firefighter, today’s front page fires would become a couple of lines on the back page.

  11. Climate Change responsible??? Is Elizabeth Kolbert and the New Yorker out of their… minds? Here in Canada we also have at least one such nutcase, the head of the Green Party. Her name is Elizabeth May and she came up with the same garbage, it is the fault of climate change! I wrote to her once asking her to provide any scientific basis for blaming humans for climate change, if it is even occurring, and she came back with the usual 97% bs. Sorry that I am so aggressive today.

    • May originally stated that “it’s a disaster that is very related to the global climate crises.” But she later reversed her comments: “No credible climate scientist would make this claim, and neither do I make this claim.” May has a history of having to correct her original emotional reaction to events. In 2009 she stated that the world only had “hours” to save itself from the ravages of climate change.

      • Political entities (too many of them are only just that, ‘entities’, often empty or misled) usually wait for the loud crowd to cheer! or boo! and then re-adjust their statements accordingly. That’s why the concept of “media capture” is so important to PR firms and propagandists.

        Remember that John Naisbitt reportedly said, “Leadership involves finding a parade and getting in front of it.”

  12. I don’t know the situation in Canada, but in Oregon, government led by eco-activists have shut off almost any work in the forests, there are no work crews to clear out – well, basically the kindling – and therefore, the fire season is worse.
    Once again, eco-activists igniting (pun intended) a crisis, all on their own, and then using it to further their agenda.
    Can’t let a crisis go to waste has been created by ‘create a crisis to take advantage of.’

    • And it gets worse. In 2002 the Biscuit fire burned a lot of forest in SW Oregon. Attempts to get the partially-burned/dead/dying material out through salvage logging were blocked by lawsuits until the trees weren’t viable to log. The same area burned last year, with the material from 2002 making a bad situation much worse.
      The excuse was to “save habitat for the spotted owl” (who don’t object to nesting in K-mart signs), but as best as I can tell, it’s to prevent companies from making any money off of public land.
      I have a national forest 2 miles from the house, and the underbrush is pretty bad. The only good news is that areas of dead trees from pine bark beetle infestations are actually getting cleared. I’ve lost one tree to it, and you have to be aggressive to keep from losing a bunch. (Broad areas of dead trees from beetles contributed to the wildfires at Yosemite, among others.)

      • I believe it was two years ago, and I think it was in Klamath Falls, OR (the story’s probably still on line – I’ll try to find a link), a farmer was jailed for storing rain water on his property for the purpose of fighting fire. In the classic Catch 22, he was told he was responsible for all fires on or around his property, but then could not store water (rain water, remember), because said water was ‘property of the state’.
        He chose to keep water on his property, apparently believing that his life and property was worth protecting from fire, and he was convicted and sent to jail.

  13. I wonder if the American aboriginal peoples used to burn thir country like the Australian ones.

    We too get extreme wildfires, we are kinda known for it and its down to the dumcluck white folks nimby’s NOT burning the country so that the uel load gets bigger and bigger and bigger then kaboom.

    Dumb arrogant white folks bringing their white folks european traditions with them.

      • i assume Eric that you have read Bill Gammage’s book. They had the English commenting that the Australian bush just naturally looked like an ‘English gentleman’s park’ it was so skillfully burned to minimise the understorey, making it easy to walk through and where fresh shoots would attract the ‘roos etc.

        The arrogant Brits of course though it was naturally like that so kicked the natives off their land without a second thought.

        I wonder if the Albwert fires will become the lawyers megafeast like Black Tuesday has in Oz? Lawyers are the only megafauna left here now.

    • Not just the Native Americans either. White settlers in the West routinely set scrub brush fires to clear out an area and make it more suitable for livestock, the bonus kicker was, it also brought more wildlife, making the area more hospitable to both man and beast. They understood the practice and learned from the natives that controlled burning is a good thing and prevented wild fires from killing their livelihood.

      Old growth forests are not healthy ones. The problem is the IDEA eco-activists have over what is pretty, what is healthy and what is bad. Each one of those ideas is based on emotion rather than knowledge or logic. An old growth forest is not a park…yet they want it to look like a well maintained park and think that comes “naturally” when in fact it is the work of unseen humans keeping it that way.

      • Old growth forests are ones that have lived with periodic fires for hundreds of years. Old growth can be very healthy and beautiful. Indeed, park-like. The unhealthiest and most dangerous forests are the snags of young trees that fill an area that has been cut.

      • True old growth forests have endured many cleansing fires, and are ‘patchy’, so ideal wildlife habitat. Most of such a forest is NOT old. ‘Old growth’ after ‘Smokey Bear’ fire supression is a greenie illusion. Old, yes. Like old in an unnatural nursing home sense. So very fire prone.
        No tree lives forever; that is why they produce seeds. And why in fire dependent forests those seeds (conifer ‘pine cones’) need fire to be released and germinate. If they germinated under an old forest canopy they would die from lack of sunlight. After a fire, they thrive in the absence of canopy. And the fastest growing will out compete the rest. So the immature trees in a healthy natural forest are usually slender, straight, and tall. Only then do they grow girth on order to be logged.
        On my Wisconsin dairy farm’s 3 woodlots, we selective cut only. A problem. But with each logging, we also cut for firewood any bent or crooked, ‘wolf’ trees. Trying to emulate Ma Nature. And save burr oaks, the original savanna survivors of the prairie fires that used to do the work we do now on her behalf without fire..

      • The Green nuts pictures nature as a photograph frozen in time. What they see now is how nature is, has been, and always should be. They have almost no concept of nature as a living changing thing.

    • “Ponderosa pines thrive in sunlight and require periodic fires. Historically, low-intensity fires caused by lightning or set by Indians burned every few decades and killed competing species that shaded out young ponderosa pines. Older ponderosa pines were protected by their thick bark. As fires have been suppressed, ponderosa stands have become crowded with mature trees competing for limited nutrients and moisture. Young ponderosa pines are then shaded out. Throughout many western states, including Montana, ponderosa pine stands have been taken over by more shade-tolerant species such as the Douglas fir.”
      http://fwp.mt.gov/mtoutdoors/HTML/articles/portraits/ponderosapine.htm
      The old growth trees drop their lower branches leaving a crown. Enough brush can allow fire to reach the crown. Small regular fires go up against the ponderosa’s ablative bark which protects the tree. The regular fires consume the brush protecting the crown. Crown fires can be very bad. Notice the lack of government. I recall the inane policy of clearing brush after some disaster in the BWCA. No chainsaws allowed. It’s the tragedy of the commons. It is commonly owned with whack jobs and lawyers having significant say.

    • Yes, they did. The old timers in Fort McMurray tell stories of the folks moving back to the rivers from the plateau in the fall, with the plumes of smoke behind them.

  14. So don’t build your house on a flood plain, near to eroding coastal cliffs, near a volcano, in an earthquake zone or too near to fire dependent ecosystems like boreal forests. I’m starting to get a hang of this.

    • You can live near boreal forests so long as you pay attention to defensible space. Local recommendations are to have 70 foot clearance between houses and big trees, and to keep the flammables away from the house. (Hint: that firewood pile stacked up against the house? Bad idea. Brush growing by your propane tank? Worse idea.)

  15. I was in Slave Lake Alberta during the big fire of 2011 and have worked in the forest in the Ft Mac area for years. In my opinion, the fire breaks were completely insufficient in both cases. If you live in the middle of the forrest with billions of dollars worth of assets, you absolutely need a firebreak big enough to stop a large fire. A one hundred meter firebreak is simply not good enough as anyone who has fought big boreal forest fires will tell you. It amazes me that the Slave Lake fire inspired so little action for other northern towns. Just glad that no one was hurt.

    Curiously, Fort McMurray was a model “firesmart” community. The link below outlines the fire mitigation program which as we can see, was a total failure in planning.
    https://www.firesmartcanada.ca/images/uploads/resources/FireSmart-Protecting-Your-Community.pdf

    • Dave,
      Fully agree with your comments, see my post down thread. The forest was not more the 100 feet from my front door when I lived in the Fort, Ironically a “green belt” lot commands a premium.

      • Yes Mike, I too lived there (Dickensfield), and all I had to do was drive across the road and I was in the forest (great grouse hunting areas), but that area is now burned, but wait a few years when re-growth starts…..the eco-system will flourish!!!

      • Torrie Crescent, myself. Greenbelt lot. One day the house next door caught fire, from an unattended barbecue pit. I was never so happy, standing on my cedar shingle roof with a water hose, than to see the fire department spraying water over – not on – the burning house, to wet down the forest beyond.

        A greenbelt lot in Fort McMurray means a normal suburban lot with a back fence, then a 10′ walking trail and then the boreal forest. Some suburbs in Fort McMurray crossing that trail and heading straight into the forest could mean walking 100 miles without any sign of civilization. Simply put, the place is in the bush.

        The forest behind my house was subject to “fuel reduction” efforts at intervals, so it is not as if nothing was thought about or done. But a jack pine forest will simply explode. The turpenes – that lovely pine scent in the air – can reach explosive mixture concentrations on a hot day.

        That is the main difference between the Australian practice of controlled burns (I lived in Perth for a six years) and the boreal forest. Both are fire dominant, but in the boreal the trees do not survive a burn; rather, the forest is happy to regenerated from the ground.

  16. The Climate Campaigner’s Creed: Never let any weather-related disaster to pass by without connecting it to “climate change”, because it helps True Believers stay true to the Cause.

  17. I lived for 20+ years of my working life in Fort McMurray, fond memories and very deep feelings for the affected people.

    I do have to agree with the premise that incompetence has played a factor in this disaster, both long term regards excessive use of fire suppression that caused a build up of material in the boreal forest and short term regards the immediate response to the fire, did budget concerns limit the use of water bombers before the fire was out of control?? The facts will out eventually so much more than those broad comments would be speculation.

    One factor that I think contributes to the scale of fire damage, and something that surprised me when I first moved to Canada, is the widespread use of asphalt shingles for roofing, just plain stupid. Burning embers landing on Asphalt saturated shingles????????? Ban them, especially in forested areas.

    To those Gaia worshipping idiots that are trying to link this to climate change, my thoughts are not fit to commit to the written word. Stick your self righteous, subsidized, Prius where the sun doesn’t shine and then start it up.

    • ” Stick your self righteous, subsidized, Prius where the sun doesn’t shine and then start it up.”

      The Australian version refers to the rough end of a pineapple…..

    • My parents house and the one kitty corner to it were the only two houses to survive both fires that wiped out most of the town each time. Not surprising both houses have metal roofs. Actually the other house is completely covered in sheets of embossed metal that look like stone blocks. My parents house dates from the early 1700s, an original settlers house .

    • The building code needs an upgrade for sure. Building codes came about as a result of fires that cleared whole cities. They are generally effective but are inadequate or are unenforced in many of Canada’s remote communities. Given the gridlock as folks evacuated Fort McMurray, it’s a miracle that many many people didn’t die a horrible death.

      It seems to me that the Australians handle bush fires better than the Canadians. (In Canada’s defense I would say that they are much better than the Australians at blizzards.)

    • “Burning embers landing on Asphalt saturated shingles????????? ”
      Well actually, from what I saw, a lot of the houses that burnt down, the roof and asphalt shingles were still intact (but now on the ground). It actually takes a lot of heat to get asphalt shingles burning. More so that the rest of the house.

      The worst I saw was the Kelowna fire a few year ago, they had cedar shake shingles. Now that is crazy!

      • In my neighborhood (McKenzie Lake), the houses were all build with shake shingles, and people were not allowed to replace them until many years later. Now there are very few with them… they’re horrible roofing materials, they rot and leak. Mine has a recycled rubber material that is pretty difficult to burn (we tried lighting a sample with a blowtorch, it doesn’t go), several others on my street have metal that is textured to look like something else. The metal roofs require blades near the bottom, which slices up the inevitable sheets of ice that slide off during winter warm-ups.

        And every fire in a newer neighborhood, where the homes are stupidly close together, results in 3 houses being destroyed or seriously damaged. This is how they have decided to fight “urban sprawl”… jamming everything too close together. That, and failing to have proper transportation in and out of new neighborhoods so people don’t want to live there.

    • “Stick your self righteous, subsidized, Prius where the sun doesn’t shine and then start it up.”

      The Romans had a saying, “Quem deus vult perdere, prius dementat:” Whom God would destroy is nuts about the Prius.

    • What happened is that they did not attack the fire out-break properly in the first place. The best fire fighting protocol says to put every resource possible at the earliest outbreak of any fire including water bombers and on-the-ground fighters right away; within an hour if possible.

      In this case, the fire started last Sunday, and even by Tuesday at noon hour, they were not concerned about the fire despite how close it was to the community and how dry the area was and how the wind was forecast to pick up Tuesday afternoon.

      Just 4 hours later after expressing “no concerns” with the fire, houses were burning and the entire community was ordered to evacuate.

      There is a picture of high school students standing on the football field watching a wall of flames 200 metres high approaching from just 500 metres away or so. There is no way this should have happened at all.

      The fire fighting people in the area completely dropped the ball. They should have attacked it hard on day one instead of being so complacent.

  18. Recently (meaning two weeks ago) I just finished an assignment preparing the diary notes of a violin teacher in Guelph, Ontario, for a manuscript. This is his entry for Sept. 4, 1950:

    Sept 24 Got very dark. Twas smoke from forest fires in Alberta & the light had to be on to see. Radio said it was all over Ontario

    This was the famous Chinchaga wildfire in BC and Alberta, which spread smoke as far as Europe where they experienced blue suns and moons.

  19. The Aborigines in Australia periodically fired the trees intentionally as part of their nomad agricultural methods and culture. Tests have shown that such practices are botanically beneficial. I travelled through Victoria in early 2014, just after the massive wild fire disaster there. Two to three months after the fire the blackened trees were already sprouting new green shoots. I was told, but don’t know if it was true, that the fire had occurred because the naturalists and environmentalists had insisted that vegetation between the trees had to be kept in place to preserve and protect wild life. This was despite thousands of years of Aboriginal experience that their practice of bush burning had not affected wild life – a major source of food for them. Clearing out vegetation between the trees, creates not only a greater risk of fire but also leaves massive amounts of kindling type fuel in place which accelerates the speed of the fire front.

    • Natives in the Eastern US would do the same thing. They would burn down some forest which released nutrients to the soil, then they would move to a different area once that area became unproductive and repeat. In the meantime, the forest would gradually reclaim the old agricultural area. In fact, after initial contact with natives in the Caribbean and South America, disease traveled very quickly into North America. By the time European settlers were pushing inland from the Atlantic coast, it was estimated that the native population was already only 10% of what it had been a couple hundred years before.

      • Hit “post too soon. So anyway, by the time European settlers arrived, most of North America was actually more heavily forested than it had been for thousands of years prior due to the reduction in native population that had already taken place before they arrived.

      • One doesn’t have to be a pyromaniac to start a wildfire. Few people understand how dry the forest is in the early spring ( especially when there has been no recent rain). Last year’s growth is now tinder dry detritus and will burn very easily. A hot muffler,a discarded pop bottle, a spark from a small campfire, sparks from striking rocks, field work such as grinding, welding, logging, etc. And then there are just careless actions…

    • Saskatchewan ( East side of Alberta ) already has over 60 fires burning. Early fire season and pretty dry. Hard to remember that 4 years ago was one of the longest, coldest and snowiest winters I’ve seen in my 58 years.

  20. Yeah the author of that article also wrote a book

    The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History is a 2014 nonfiction book written by Elizabeth Kolbert and published by Henry Holt & Company. The book demonstrates that the Earth is in the midst of a modern, man-made, sixth extinction.

    Any surprise that this non scientist can somehow tell us something about the fact that over 98% of all the species that ever existed are dead and die long before modern man, can then say old forests badly managed are burning because of climate change.

    • The other problem is that nobody can find most of the species that are supposedly going extinct.
      It’s all the work of models, predicting how many species should be going extinct based on the inputs.
      The number of species assumed to be in existence prior to the coming of man has never been documented or confirmed.

      PS: How many times have we heard about an “extinct” species being rediscovered?

      • … nobody can find most of the species that are supposedly going extinct.

        The cases are inverted but it’s like trying to find species that went extinct without a trace.

        I think Yogi Berra would have found a more elegant way to say it.

  21. .Alberta 1910:. . . .12-18 Million Acres of Land burned . . .

    1910 is “still remembered as the year of the big fire”. The weather conditions for Alberta in 1910 paralleled those of the Northern States. 1909 was a hot, dry year across Canadian Rockies and Foothills regions, with drought conditions that sparked the last of the great prairie fires in Alberta.

    The largest fire burnt late in the fall, devastating an estimated 12‐18 million acres of land.

    …June and July [1910] were drier than usual, with temperatures above the annual averages for the last twenty years by as much as three degrees” . . .

    Taken from “The 1910 Fires in Alberta’s Foothill and Rocky Mountain Ranges”

    PDF of Report with historical references here:
    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiCo6i-6sXMAhVRwmMKHa_CBGAQFggcMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmountainlegacy.ca%2Fresearch%2Fdocuments%2FAnnand-1910Fires-FinalReport.pdf&usg=AFQjCNHiak7ZIzOjc072nkkpH938xO69iQ&bvm=bv.121421273,d.cGc

  22. Lest we forget…Lots of tragic fire history in the Alberta area. 97 years ago in May…

    The Great Alberta Fire – May 19, 1919
    More than 7.5 Million Acres burned.

    ….”At least 13 confirmed and unknown number of burned victims. Many injured.
    Undoubtedly a complex of many fires burning simultaneously over a wide area. Springtime burning conditions”…

    ‘Lest we forget’: Canada’s major wildland fire disasters of the past, 1825-1938
    PDF here: https://www.firesmartcanada.ca/images/uploads/resources/Alexander-Lest-We-Forget.pdf« less

  23. I’m an Albertan. I look at the fire location centered on Fort Mac and say “Arson”. So right away climate change is not the cause of the fire, i.e. spontaneous, but man is. Are the winds unusual? No. So what is left? Dry wood and fuel load

    Of these only dry wood may be climate change. Fuel load is the result of good growing conditions and will always occur in a boreal forest environment. Natural decomposition here doesn’t occur fast enough – because it is too cold and too dry! Now dry could be climate change, due to either lack of precipitation and/or heat.

    It was indeed a warm and snow-free winter. But the stats are “for the last hundred years”. So we know it has been this warm before SUVs. Drier? Haven’t heard that. In the ’80s the land around Calgary cracked because of a 10-year drought. Not now, not here. So, maybe not unusual in the provincial sense.

    We had an El Nino winter. Our warm air comes from the Californian and Pacific area. Weather maps each morning reflect this. So “Climate Change” as the cause of the Fort Mac fires requires this last El Nino to be caused or its areal extent to be caused by climate change. Was it? Didn’t we have a blocking high pressure zone in the nw Atlantic holding the hot air out west?

    So now climate change has to have caused a blocking weather system. Or was that just weather. After all, the warmists haven’t said the European cold winter and late snow – caused by the blocked high – was caused by “climate change”.

    Climate change in the American Green mind is whatever change they see through the keyhole of their front door. The Fort Mac fire is typical of this subjective view of the world. It is not just that all weather is local, for the eco-green REALITY is local. Every local data point is a global data point if it points in the direction of CAGW. (Hence NOAA adjustments always go up.)

    A La Nina is coming with a 0.4C global drop in temperatures. How will that be interpreted by warmists? Weather or an anomalous climatic event? As if weather still happens …. or forest fires.

    • All it takes in the spring to make scary conditions for fire is a few hot days with a strong warm dry wind. You don’t need unusual conditions at all. The run of the mill bad timing of once in 10 year weather is all it takes to have big fires. As has been the case for millenua. They only make the Mainstream news when they hit towns.

      • What I think a lot of people don’t realise is that these types of fires soon create their own weather and especially wind. If the fuel is there, they <i.will self-oxidise.

    • We just got done with excess moisture conditions in Sask and I’m guessing Alta was similar. Where do they think the ideal growing conditions for all those trees?

  24. Global warming is boon to governments; acts as a great cover for bureaucratic incompetence and also provides great opportunity for raising taxes.

  25. This is all sort of dumb. The wilderness areas are going to burn and some of the species and ecology require it. A forest of old, sick, and dead trees is a fire hazard.

    If you are going to leave wilderness lying around green areas near civilization need to be fire resistant so they act as a fire break.

  26. Early spring fires are relatively common in the Boreal Forest of northern Canada. After the snow melts in the early spring sunlight the soils dry. The dead vegetation from the prior year’s growth is tinder and will ignite like “wildfire”. A wet spring will alleviate the fire potential. The high fire threat is generally before the biota have awoken from their winter hibernation to consume the detritus (Mother nature’s process for sequestering carbon). This is the natural process of regeneration.
    However, man interfered with the process because the wood fiber has value and we have assets that need protecting. The plan was to harvest the fiber and replant the forests. This plan has been destroyed by the Green Movement who seem to think that Mother Nature is wrong and the Boreal Forest needs man’s protection and an international accord protecting the Boreal Forest was signed a few years ago. The aging forests have a higher fuel load and are more susceptible to disease outbreaks . The outbreak of the Mountain Pine Beetle in Western Canada is in part a result of the aging forests and has further increased the fuel load.The wildfires burn hotter and are larger because of the fuel load. When they start (most often from lightening) near a community, the devastation is horrific.
    We in the neighbouring British Columbia have experienced this devastation several times. Large areas of BC and Northwestern US burned during 2003 when the communities of Barriere, McLure, Louis Creek, Naramata and the City of Kelowna were burned. I remember the Sentinel Mtn wildfire back when I was a kid threatened my hometown of Castlegar. In 1950 a wildfire in the Boreal Forest spanning BC and Alberta border burned 1.4mil ha.
    http://bcwildfire.ca/history/largefires.htm
    BC now considers logging a valuable tool in controlling wildfires and has or is logging vast tracks of timber that was killed by the Mountain Pine Beetle. The Ministry of forest has a funding program for fuel Management We continue to battle aging forests.
    With respect to the Fort McMurray fire, it started close to the town in a dry spring and rapidly grew fueled by strong winds that blew it into town. If it was not burning a town, it would not have garnered the attention it is getting. There is a much larger fire burning to the west.
    This fire is definitely not the result of climate change but it is the result of weather conditions that have occurred since history. And in my opinion, the Green movement is complicit in this issue. Their misguided notion that trees live forever and man’s management or use of the forest is evil is ill conceived. It has produced over mature forests with elevated fuel level that have increased the intensity of natural wildfires. When they interface with communities, the devastation is heartbreaking and that is what the focus should be – caring for those whose homes, possessions, keepsakes, heirlooms, livelihood, and peace of mind has been ripped away. Those who use tragedies like this one for political gain or to push an agenda should be considered pariahs and shunned. There is no honour in them.

    • That people even try to claim that climate change is responsible for the fires is sort of deluded.

      The CO2 increase is having a slightly negative impact on the O2 (the atmosphere is where the O2 to make CO2 comes from).

      Reducing O2 reduces fire risk.

      It is thought that carboniferous forests were fire resistant species because at O2 levels above 25% the place would have been a tinderbox. A 25+% O2 level would make the fires in current vegetation unstoppable. That and metal would rust as you watched.

      Yet another benefit of global warming – bridges last longer.

    • Great summary DCS. The intensity of this and other fires are a result of human meddling but not with the climate. People like forests because they are pretty/scenic/natural. All of that I agree with, but foresters and sensible people know that trees have specific general maximum age ranges for each species. If we’re talking about California redwoods, then fine, we’re measuring in the hundreds of years. On the other hand if we’re considering hideous poplar trees in eastern Manitoba, then we’re looking around 30 years; jack pine in the 40-50 year range, etc.

      But we’ve had fire management programs going a lot further back than those age spans and as humans expand into areas ever closer to “nature” and we don’t manage those situations, either through controlled burning or logging (selectively) then we just build up the fuel load in the forests. As you mentioned, B.C. has suffered its share of fires and as I’m in Manitoba, we’ll see the same eventually in the eastern part of our province where cottage country is – the Whiteshell and Nopiming Provincial parks. I’m old enough to have watched 40+ years of cottage goers in those regions and if you threaten to remove any trees – well consider yourself immediately ostracized and a pariah. Yet those regions hold trees that don’t ever come close to what could be considered “old growth” as they simply don’t survive that long (aspen/poplar, various species of pine/spruce).

      I remember being in grad school (ecology/forestry/entomology) over twenty years ago and having debates about forests because my thesis centered on successional processes in forests. One of my fellow graduate students was an eco-minded thing at the time and I loved asking her if we should allow logging? No was the ready answer, not surprisingly. I also asked if we should allow a forest to burn as a result of a lightning strike (natural occurrence y’know) and her answer was also no as we had to preserve and protect nature. Unbelievably she is a prof at a university now and still holds the same beliefs which are foisted upon students. Her answer to the lightning question is wrong because of what DCS summarized above.

      Nature will find a way. Be it insects, disease or fire, nothing lives forever, not even forests. There’s a distinct human element at play here but it has absolutely nothing to do with presumed climate change.

      • Lectric, ‘poplar’ are a particularly fast growing aspen genus of deciduous. Most common on my farm in Wisconsin are ‘black toothed aspens’, named for the distinctive mark below each branch, buds of which are favorite ruffed grouse winter food. Not to be confused with the tulip poplar hardwoods of southern forests in the Appalachians where my significant other has her cabin. Her poplars grow early like weeds, also, but only to early outcompete the Southern White Pines, maples, and oaks that are the ultimate successional forest in that region (north Georgia in holding of Chatahoochie National Forest, established by TR on utterly devastated clear logged land). Northern Poplars die young at 30-40. Tulip poplars die young at 60-80. Maples and oaks and SWP in the Chattahoochie die young at >200 years with trunk girth diameters often approaching a meter at breast height.
        We walk such forests often. And have a hand made Georgia cabin table made from a quarter sawn SWP that measures almost 3 feet wide, definitely not center cut.. Took her two years to finish that one, plus I had to go into the forest and select/cut/peel/cure/ finish the five hardwood legs supporting it. Only one tree. The tall, straight, narrow immature kind found in healthy forests.

      • lectrikdog May 6, 2016 at 2:05 pm
        “Hideous(?) Poplar trees…” Don’t you mean Deciduous?

        Hideous trees are unpoplar.

      • That she is now a prof is no surprise. The most removed from reality are the ones who set their sights on the ivory tower. As profs, their outsized egos are fed by dominating eager young students with ideas that have no grounding in the real world.

    • Hi from a old neighbour – Trail and Grand Forks teens – then all over. I am old enough to remember the big BC fires in the 50’s. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

  27. Having lived in the Lake Tahoe/ El Dorado county area from the 80’s-2000 I have seen this happen before. The logging companies , with the help of the forest service ( hey remember when they worked together) Stopped all fires from spreading but at the same time removed the under brush and dead fall a well as they could. People like me would get our fire wood permits every year and cut wood not only for our selves but for sale to others. This is why as a young man there was no excuse for being broke in the sierras. You could always cut wood. All fire wood had t be downed trees and at least two years old. who wants to load wet heavy wood when you can load dry wood that gets a better price. After Clinton closed most of the logging roads on public land and the government of California went after wood burning stoves in a lot of the state the amount of debris on the forest floor when up. Combined with the thicker forest on public land due to the planned destruction of the logging industry, see spotted owl hoax, and the larger more devastating fires were close behind. The high heat of these types of fires burn the ground and form a crust that seeds can and will not penetrate. These are unnatural fires brought on by un natural conditions due to stupidity and emotions by greenies both in and out of the forest service. The solution is more logging and better logging practices before the fires. After the fires the solution is to get in with heavy equipment and remove some if not most of the burnt wood and replant. The equipment breaks the crusted earth up so that plants and seeds can take hold. After the highway 50 fire back in 84 or so There was a short film produced by the logging companies that showed the difference between removing the old wood and planting and doing nothing and leaving it to nature. Public land and logging land boarded each other on a hill side where the two different methods were used and are clearly visible. 5 years after the fire the private lands are growing back with nice healthy young forest and all the wildlife that it provides for. The public lands that were left to mother nature, like it was a living person that was going to correct the problems, is a slide prone, waste land with nothing but manzanita and scotch broom. This area has slide down on highway 50 many times since then. We have a duty as a people to manage the environment around use as we change it. Doing nothing as the forest service is so fond of the last 40 years, is not a management plan. I am not a scientist nor do I have a collage education, not that they are worth a whole lot these days from what I have seen, I am just a guy that grew up in the woods some.

  28. Michael Palmer
    May 6, 2016 at 8:27 am

    As a kid, my friends and I actually chewed real tar we found in pieces near the railway track – maybe used for treating railway ties – probably not a recommended thing to do these days. The stuff could be broken yielding a shiny, concoidal fracture. It didn’t spread in your mouth like molasses but rather gathered into a blob pretty much like chewing gum.

    The National Energy Board of Canada describes the bitumen of the of the oil sands as a mixture of hydrocarbons heavier than pentane, a point at which production by wells is not possible. It is a viscous crude. They note that bitumen in Venezuela is even more viscous than the Canadian stuff. You definitely wouldn’t be tempted to chew this stuff! Tar is a real commodity – not so much in use as it once was, but before melting it, you could put chunks in your pocket and break pieces off it.

    Anyway, the term “Tar” sands, like the term “Carbon” for CO2 is pretty much activist language – you know, awful black stuff. I think that is the point your opponents are trying to make.

    • Hey! They produce heavy crude in California that’s worse than the oil sands but the hypocritical b-tards never complain about that!

  29. You will be surprised at how many forests need a fire. Some trees would be extinct if there was no fire.

    For example, the southeastern US has a lot of pine trees. There are several type of pines trees in the southeastern US. The loblolly pine is a tall skinny pine with a deep taproot. Because it is hurricane resistant, it is the most common tree in the area. It will never blow over in a hurricane, but it will snap. Then there is the longleaf pine and pond pine. Both these pine trees must have a fire to survive, especially the longleaf pine. The pond pine seeds do not open until there is a fire. That is all well and good, we could burn a small area to get new pond pine trees. But the longleaf pine is special. The longleaf pine has a slow initial growth. For at most 12 years, it looks a tall grass. But during those early years, it is special because it can survive any wildfire. In a mature forest, new seedlings will lose out in the competition for sunlight with other trees. But if there is a wildfire, well the longleaf pine will survive the fire whereas other trees will burn down and have to start over. After the grass stage, the longleaf pine takes off. In its natural state, the longleaf pine must have a wildfire to reproduce.

    Wildfires do a lot of damage to people’s homes. But forests need a wildfire every so often to be healthy. That is what the climate change hysterics miss. The only bad thing about these fires is that people are displaced from their homes.

    • In addition to longleaf pine, Table Mnt pine has a very limited natural range and is disappearing in the Appalachians due to fire-control — crowded out by oaks/hickories/red maples. When I lived near Blacksburg, VA, the VA Tech forestry school performed some controlled burns nearby on steep, rocky slopes where some few remaining Table Mnt pine groves existed, and after the fires the pines densely reseeded the burned areas — same as what had previously occurred naturally.

  30. So much CO2 going up in smoke. And the fire is likely to be anthropogenic. This has to increase anthropogenic climate change for sure. Somebody ought to ask for a grant to study (and model) this.

  31. The imagination of man is a dangerous tool.
    Gang Green is proof of that.
    Forest Fires are an abstract until you feel the heat.
    Presuming these forces of nature can be fought and beaten is stunning hubris.

    I live in the boreal forest , fire and freezing are our biggest fears.
    Fire can be prepared for, by careful siting of infrastructure and firebreaks on the grounds.
    We no long do that,in our towns and cities.
    My city has fingers of green space, linking structures to the forest,like fuses laid into the heart of our habitats, our bylaw officers harass citizens who remove dead wood and garbage from these areas.
    Fine you if you dare cut down a scrubby tree on your own property.
    Our fire department says; “Not our responsibility”for these hazards.
    Our Government, has a plan; That no one can see.
    Public has been asking for the “plan” since last close call with forest fires.
    When the conditions are right we will burn here.
    Another “tragedy” caused by bureaucratic interference and incompetence.
    I just hope the lake is not frozen, so I can sit on my tin boat and watch my assets burn.

    So those blaming CAGW for increasing property losses through forest fire, are sort of correct.
    Being deluded by this mass hysteria, seems to justify not doing the most basic age old prevention work, that are rightly the responsibilities of the local governments.

    Doing stupid things in the name of “saving the environment” will come back to bite.
    Even as the fire burns, the politicians and kleptocrats are certain that fires must be fought,can be fought and still persecute citizens who attempt to prevent fire.

    More and more, burning of overgrown,standing dead timber is looking like self defence rather than arson.

    Fire like bureaucracy is a fine servant when tiny, a totally destructive force when master.
    Note the time lines the “authorities” are suggesting for allowing returning Ft Mac residents back.

  32. I can understand someone wanting to live way out, in the woods…
    …I can’t understand building neighborhoods, shopping areas, schools, small towns, etc etc

    …and not build a fire break all the way around them

  33. Or sabotage? There is more than one country that is overly dependent on exporting petroleum and natural gas products. Prices have been in the can. Just saying …

  34. A good resource for the situation in Fort McMurray is the Edmonton Journal http://edmontonjournal.com BTW there are dozens of wildfires currently burning in Northern Alberta and even more in British Columbia. It’s fire season up there. Most are in remote, unpopulated areas. There were actually two near Fort McMurray. One, North of town was extinguished.

    Here’s a link that specifically addresses the wildfire plan http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/alberta-has-a-plan-to-contain-wildfires-but-is-it-working

  35. The solution in both the US West and Canada is to sell the national and other public forests. Private enterprise will manage them properly, although there is a place for forest practice acts such as Oregon’s.

    The only land the federal government should own is the national park system and military reservations. Maybe a few national monuments and wilderness areas, but those have been overdone. Indian reservations and the BLM should also be privatized.

    • Most of the Northern boreal forest is of very low value. Only a complete idiot would pay to manage these trees. Wanna buy a million acres of bush?

  36. I’m from Alberta, and know people who live up there. So this is kind of close to home.

    However, I have been saying ever since the Slave Lake fire, that towns in the forested part of Alberta need to have huge fire breaks around them. I had suggested 1 mile wide. If more is needed, so be it. I know that we all love to have trees near us, it makes us feel like we are in nature, but it is dangerous.

    I can agree with that 2012 report. Whenever I go back country hiking off trail, I see massive buildup of fuel. Sometimes up to 5 feet of deadfall littering the forest. This is a major forest fire waiting to happen.

    • I think this is correct. Even if it’s raining embers, big fire breaks would make start up fires easier to get to, easier to fight and easier to back burn. Provincial governments should provide matching grants to incent communities to meet prevention standards.

    • Yes, the PM has committed to matching donation to the Red Cross. Of course, the Red Cross doesn’t help with recovery, only immediate human need (i.e. food, water, shelter during the crisis).

  37. Send Al Gore to cool off the fire. No wait, he might ask for donations from the exodus crowd.

  38. Just sit back and wait for Hansen to do another paper which will be published during the next strong El Nino, he made a big song and dance in 1998 during the El nino. He was back again this year obviously with his garbage paper.

    I think there is a strong correlation between Hansen’s mental health and intense El Nino events.

    • Because they have been busy preventing fires using the wrong methods which leads to these kinds of intense fires.

      Had they let burn, or burned large parts of the forest in a controlled fashion this wouldn’t have been so damaging, having all your stuff burned is a bad buzz, all because of an incompetent state policy driven by nutbag environmentalists and idiots

    • In exactly the same fashion, banning dredging of rivers causes floods. Then they blame the floods on “climate change” mkay

  39. A quick question which probably has a very complex answer. Some people have suggested thinning of forests as a means of management of fuel loads. Do these forests need fire to regenerate or will they eventually cease to exist without fire?

    • Quick answer; when a fire starts, it’s not as severe when there’s less deadwood and the burn is mostly in the crowns of trees instead of whole, close-together trees going up in flames. There’s a big whoosh and then on to the next tree. First rain or river (or fire break) the fire hits, it’s out.

    • They will cease to exist as natural forests without the fire that opens the cones. If fire is kept at bay long enough the trees can suffer from pestilence and disease, and then you have an old and sickly forest. Natural fires can kill off entire area infestations of pine beetles, and keep other unwanted pests and diseases supressed. They could be maintained as unnatural forests by human cultivation and planting of the same tree types, but without periodic fires, much is lost, as in the ash nutrients that return to the soils, plant secession, etc.

  40. Just a thought…
    The headline says “Fort MacMurray fire surpasses 10,000 hectares” !!!
    A hectare = 0.00386102 square miles. Muliply by 10,000 you get >>

    38 square miles burning. Now this is maybe a lot to manage or put out and it’s definitely tragic for the inhabitants of Fort Mac but…

    The province of Alberta = 255,541 square miles. So we’re talking about 38 square miles burning out of roughly a quarter million square miles in Alberta.

    The forest will survive.

    • Truth be told they will do better because of the burning, at the cost of a lot of homes and hopefully! no people.

      “Climate change” obviously made this fire worse..
      ..by sucking all of the funding away from the Forestry service

    • Correct. Granted, this is not the only fire burning in Alberta right now.

      A lot of people do not realize how huge Alberta’s forests are. They are essentially infinite. No amount of oil activity, fires, or logging will make a dent in it.

    • It’s not that big a fire. The location is what makes it tragic and more newsworthy and controversial to some. The North is dry this year as it is some years. Fires start from lightning, careless people and the occasional arsonist. There are well over a hundred fires burning in the four Western provinces. This fire was assisted by wind which is bad, bad luck when fighting fire. It will be a long, tough fire season unless we get several days of steady rain soon. Some years are just like this. Previously? It was wet!

  41. “Did Alberta authorities act, and act effectively, on the recommendations of committee? I don’t know the answer to that question.”

    You do know the answer to that question, events prove they failed to plan for fire outbreak that would threaten a populated area.

    Controlled burns to make fire breaks would have meant the fire fighters and emergency services could MUCH better handle the situation.

    Cost, money went into carbon mitigation nonsense.

    Eric this is the whole anti adaption stance of the IPCC, this is the outcome. While the very tax payer bucks of these people goes to nonsense mitigation none goes to this problem that threatens their homes and lives and was GUARANTEED to happen sooner rather than later.

    When you talk adaption to a dangerous environment the greenies go nuts, literally, and spit feathers yet this is the outcome, the UK flooding is the outcome, all the money is in profit making mitigation that is words over a trillion a year, adaption pff, who needs that when the UN thinks there are too many of us anyway :D

  42. As a former Fire Chief myself with a coverage area that included 2500+ sq. miles in the NE. I feel badly for those affected by the fire and the crews working to contain it. Over the last few decades logging has been in decline. Logging took care of the dead and dying trees which acts as the fuel while regenerating new growth. Those practices reduced the fire situations that we had to respond to.

    Unfortunately, the environmental movement and activist landowners have purchased large swaths of land in the region banning logging and traditional use like fishing etc. when the paper companies held ownership. This now has me very concerned as the chances of major blazes increase by the year and the old logging roads and bridges are not kept up making it dangerous for fire apparatus to respond.

    A few years ago a fire was started by a wind turbine in a wilderness area just outside of my jurisdiction.

    http://bangordailynews.com/2013/04/26/opinion/editorials/turbine-fire-illuminates-need-for-reporting-mandate/

    The event was kept quiet for several years as was a fire started by lightning striking a wind ‘met’ tower in another location.

    Forests do use fire for regeneration as is mentioned in the article, however, ill conceived land uses and careless campers are the main problem.

      • Thanks! I will try to do just that. I do write occasionally for an small economic/financial news blog (unpaid and I like it that way) and would be thrilled to do the same here.

        john

      • I’d be happy to help out too. I’m fairly active with NH WindWatch next door. While I’m most interested in infrasound issues, I’m interested in shining light onto any part of the industry that the industry would rather keep in the dark.

        I’ll drop you a brief note directly.

  43. For four days this week the jet stream had been funnelling air from Baja California right up to Hudson Bay. You can see it in the maps from 5 May clearly. It’s no wonder there was a big fire.

    Sinuous jet streams have been linked to low solar activity, but not to CO2 (despite some efforts by the climateers):

    The North Atlantic jet stream correlates with Solar output over a millennium

    Paper suggests solar magnetic influence on Earth’s atmospheric pressure

  44. Isn’t this one of the most important recommendations as quoted in the article : “Priority should be given to thinning or conversion of coniferous stands, particularly black spruce, which threaten community developments [..]“. As in Australia, building right next to dense fuel or allowing dense fuel to grow near buildings is crazy. Less fuel = less fire, no fuel = no fire. I despair of the brave but misguided people in Australia who proudly declare after their house has burned to the ground “We’ll build again”. If they build again, they will burn again. First, they have to remove the fuel.

  45. Unfortunately, this fire has provided fodder for the propagandists and crackpots.

    They’re oozing out from under the rocks where they reside.

  46. During the last election in Alberta, a freak vote splitting event between the two “right” wing party’s, allowed the utterly incompetent and formerly fringe eco\ socialist, anti oil activist, NDP to get elected.

    The ultra left wing loser’s promptly cut the fire fighting budget so they could pay for more public sector union pensions and perk’s.

    The real “karma” will come after these evil bastards are voted out. The massive cuts to public sector employees and really bad social programs that will be needed to get Alberta back in the Black, will have these leftist crying like little babies. Again…

    King Ralph will be smiling down from above.

    • It wasn’t fun under King Ralph when he was balancing the budget. But it had to be done. We elected him for the job, and he did it. Imagine that! A politician who did what he was elected to do. Some people hated him for that, but most of us loved him!

  47. For more than 20 years in Australia the greenies stopped any preventative actions to limit bush fires, because they wanted to protect the natural environment. But finally, after some devastating fires, Royal Commissions made recommendations to implement regular controlled burns to protect both humans and wildlife. So now we have regular controlled burns again, which local firefighters always knew was the right approach, but ignorant inner city greenies thought they knew better.

    • It doesn’t get simpler than that, it doesn’t take a genius or a group of bureaucrats to figure it out, it just takes money and a lack of stupidity

  48. I’m amazed at the mini-“debate” over the “tar” sands moniker, in the comments above. Completely off-topic. But it does reveal the state of the debate over climate. And whether YMM’s minuscule global contribution to CO₂ could be in any way responsible for the “climate change” that “led to” this monumental testament to poor forestry practice. It happens every El Niño year. Can the buffoonery. Note that without fossil fuels, this would have become an insurmountable disaster injecting millions of tons of soot, ash, and CO₂ into the atmosphere.
    What also comes to mind is the suspiciously slow response by the Alberta Government, itself famous for its revulsion to the “Tar” sands. Their silence was deafening, although they have now begun to respond, spending our tax dollar on the refugees. But they could have spent a tenth of that in a quick response to the nascent fire, itself suspicious in its location and timing…and prevented this exodus and its 100-million-dollar outlay, which they no doubt will try and take credit for.
    Watching the debate over whether it’s tar, or bitumen, or heavy oil, or proto-fakking-gilsonite is like watching a bunch of first-graders argue nuclear physics.
    The YMM fire was a botch job from the get-go, and climate trolls are really just not welcome in the debate about its cause. Go sit on your unicorn’s forehead.

    • That was great, Mike. Real classy. Whether you think so or not, it is an important distinction, on many levels. Sniping from the sidelines is also a playground tactic.It was also not off topic, unless you are running this blog now.

    • The brand-new NDP Premier and her band of yoga teachers and baristas that make up her new Cabinet reduced the fire-fighting budget from $500 million to $87 million in her first budget last October (?), and she got rid of the water-bombers who were on stand-by. This, in the face of the Slave Lake fire that caused so much devastation.

      90,000 people are displaced. 90,000 people can never go home. 90,000 people are homeless.

    • @Mike Bromley the Kurd,

      You can kvetch all you want, but it’s Oil Sands. And has been for decades. How you know someone has never set foot in Alberta to verify the facts: they use the words Tar Sands.

      it may be regional disdain, but it’s like some waterfall expert showing up north of Fresno and calling the national park he’s standing in, Yozamight.

  49. The enormous damage from the Fort McMurray fire was caused by lack of preparation. Alberta had adequate warning, notably from the fire that destroyed about 400 homes in the town of Slave Lake in 2011.

    The Fort McMurray fire has destroyed over 1600 structures and severely damaged the economy of the greatest wealth-producing region of Canada.

    Recent Alberta governments, whether PC or NDP, have been seriously incompetent, especially about energy policy and forest fire control.

    The PC’s utterly botched electricity deregulation. They also embraced costly and intermittent wind power, which the rest of the world is finally realizing is not green and produces little useful energy. Recently they installed an unneeded and costly DC power line that further drove up costs. Having adopted sound fiscal (Royalty and Tax) terms for the oilsands circa 1997, they completely messed them up circa 2008.

    The NDP energy policy is to replace our cheap, reliable coal-fired power plants with even more intermittent wind power. This cannot work, due to the fatal flaw of intermittency of wind power.

    I have worked in the Athabasca oilsands since 1977, and have a strong affinity to Fort Mac and the good people who work there. This past Wednesday, in about 20 minutes I arranged for over 100 free hotel rooms for those who are displaced, and yesterday I arranged for more resources.

    What can you do to help?

    Donate to the Red Cross – the feds and the Province are matching funds. Dig deep – many young families have lost everything.
    https://donate.redcross.ca/ea-action/action?gclid=CNrV7b65xswCFQYIaQodJg8FDw&ea.client.id=1951&ea.campaign.id=50639

    Thank you, Allan

    • This past Wednesday, in about 20 minutes I arranged for over 100 free hotel rooms for those who are displaced, and yesterday I arranged for more resources.

      Wonderful man. My hat off to you for your efforts. Truly. I live in the US but I have family in Alberta. No one down here, or in eastern Canada, understands how Alberta is in the vanguard on the North American continent protecting the environment and has been since old Premier Manning Père days (1949). For example, you can’t take a damn thing out of the ground from ore to oil to water, or even placing a gas line, without restoring the ground to the same or better conditions. And god help you if you sully the air. You’re fined and you can go to jail. No other province in Canada has that rule. Americans have no clue what that even is. They call it socialism down here and sneer. Of course, know-nothings like Bill McKibben and James Hansen know nothing about this.

    • Air Canada is gouging the refugees from this fire $4000 to fly to Halifax? And their response to the public outcry is to reduce this outrageous one-way fare by 1/2?

      Will. Never. Use. That. Airline. Ever. Again.

      Not. Ever. Shame.

      Westjet is supplying free planes to get people marooned and destitute north of Fort Mac to safety.

  50. http://www.csagroup.org/documents/testing-and-certification/product_areas/forest_products_marking/CAN_CSA_Z809-02O_English.pdf
    CAN/CSA-Z809-02 Sustainable Forest Management: Requirements and Guidance A National Standard of Canada (approved May 2003) : Demonstrates a process-centric policy, light on objectives.
    Similar documents seen with Alberta Forest Management Planning Standard
    http://wildfire.alberta.ca/fire-smart-landscapes/documents/ABForestMgmtPlanStandard-2006.pdf
    Canadian authorities appear to have have a legendary talent to proscribe process ad nauseam.

    From, https://www.firesmartcanada.ca/images/uploads/resources/chapter8.pdf
    Fire Smart – Chapter Eight. Communities Taking Action – Templates for Success

    “Wildfire is a common occurrence in the region, from within the city limits and from large uncontrolled wildfires advancing towards the city. Wildfire has threatened homes in Fort McMurray several times in the past. Fires within the city limits in 1980, 1986, and 1995 threatened buildings and resulted in joint fire suppression action between Alberta Environment, Land and Forest Service and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Fire Department.”

    “The Fort McMurray Wildland/Urban Interface Plan assesses sites at risk for interface fire within the city limits and identifies priorities for mitigation.
    The plan makes many recommendations that, if followed, will help Fort McMurray develop into a FireSmart community. Some, such as the fuels modification and interagency cooperation, have already been implemented successfully and have put the Fort McMurray initiative well on the way to becoming a success.”

    Written by bureacrats for bureaucrats, and not unlike:
    CANADIAN WILDLAND FIRE STRATEGY: BACKGROUND SYNTHESES, ANALYSES, AND PERSPECTIVES http://www.ccfm.org/pdf/cwfs_Analysis_EN_web.pdf

    “Successful community-wide FireSmart programs have been initiated in Fort McMurray, Kamloops, Hinton, and Banff (Partners in Protection 2003).”
    “FireSmart programs rely on public education, with the responsibility for implementation left to communities
    or individual property holders, on a largely voluntary basis.”
    “Dorothy Whitaker, addressed the Northwest Fire Council (Whittaker 1988): ‘What we are lacking are very specific rules for fire prevention under the Municipal Act. Some of the specific rules that are so desperately needed are such things as (1) insurance that a secondary access is created; (2) regulations that no shake roofs be used in subdivisions that are out in the forested area; and; (3) at the building permit stage, an inspection to find out whether the property owner has cleaned out his property so that there is not miscellaneous material lying around which would add fuel to any potential fire.’

    Fuels Management
    Most provinces do not have fuel management or mitigation programs, and the few that do exist are in the early stages of development, with limited funding. In some cases there may be regulatory barriers to fuels management, such as a requirement that forest plantation stocking levels be maintained following forest management activities on Crown land or that timber cut during fuel treatments be included in the annual allowable cut.

    • The sex and hockey guidelines are actually pretty good though! Watch those skate blades!

      • Indeed JH, you aren’t referring to a meaningful synchronization of process and delayed self-gratification are you? I’m certain our friends will have guidelines and bureaucratic rules that cover all activities, real and imagined. Their French inheritance is very special.

  51. A few thoughts re wildfire prevention and damage mitigation:

    Firebreaks:
    We have the largest heavy equipment in the world at Fort McMurray, including dozers with blades over 20 feet wide. We can build fire breaks wide enough to stop most fires, preferably BEFORE a fire starts…

    Fireproof structures:
    Concrete-shelled homes have survived even major wildfires.
    Here is one such product – I designed, patented it and brought it to production decades ago and it works really well – I am no longer involved in any way, so this is NOT a commercial plug.
    http://www.advantageicf.com/homeowners/advantage_system.html
    Add concrete (or similar) roof tiles, concrete floor and ceiling decks, non-flammable siding and insulated steel shutters and these houses will survive almost any natural disaster including a tornado strike or major flood – and they do not cost much more than conventional stick-built homes.

    Donate to the Red Cross – please.
    https://donate.redcross.ca/ea-action/action?gclid=CNrV7b65xswCFQYIaQodJg8FDw&ea.client.id=1951&ea.campaign.id=50639

    Thank you, Allan

  52. I have seen this meme many times before. The fact of the matter is that both climate change and forest management can influence fire severity. In this case both may be involved but it is clear that the warm, dry conditions are clearly contributing to the size and severity of this fire. Long-term trends indicate that fire size and severity are increasing with time across the western United States, Alaska, and the boreal forest of Canada. Face it, climate change is leading to more fires and more severe fires across much of North America.

    • Wrong!

      Clearly you and your family haven’t lived in the West since the 1850s. Those of us who have have seen far worse forest fires under cooler conditions.

      The whole “climate change” scam is based upon the supposed water vapor feedback mechanism, ie more rain as a result of allegedly man-made global warming, not drier conditions.

      More moisture means worse forest fires because of more fuel. Mismanagement of public lands is to blame. The solution is, as usual, private ownership.

      This was El Nino combined with a Loon Leftie regime in Alberta. The only upside is that the loons are now liable to be tossed out, unless Center and Right voters again engage in a circular firing squad.

      • Take a look at the science, increases in wildfire activity is driven by warmer temperatures.
        From Westerly et al 2006 Science.
        Western United States forest wildfire activity is widely thought to have increased in recent decades, yet neither the extent of recent changes nor the degree to which climate may be driving regional changes in wildfire has been systematically documented. Much of the public and scientific discussion of changes in western United States wildfire has focused instead on the effects of 19th- and 20th-century land-use history. We compiled a comprehensive database of large wildfires in western United States forests since 1970 and compared it with hydroclimatic and land-surface data. Here, we show that large wildfire activity increased suddenly and markedly in the mid-1980s, with higher large-wildfire frequency, longer wildfire durations, and longer wildfire seasons. The greatest increases occurred in mid-elevation, Northern Rockies forests, where land-use histories have relatively little effect on fire risks and are strongly associated with increased spring and summer temperatures and an earlier spring snowmelt.
        https://d2ufo47lrtsv5s.cloudfront.net/content/sci/313/5789/940/F1.large.jpg?width=800&height=600&carousel=1
        Link
        http://science.sciencemag.org/content/313/5789/940.full

    • No Luke. Period. There is no correlation. You and a million others are just repeating YOUR meme.

    • “Face it, climate change is leading to more fires and more severe fires across much of North America …”.
      ====================================

      (USDA Forest Service).
      “… the Canadian fire record prior to the early 1970s is incomplete, as various regions of the country (particularly in the north) were not consistently monitored during this period. For example, the Yukon and Northwest Territories have only reported burned areas since 1946, while the province of Newfoundland began reporting in 1947. It is expected that incomplete records are much more of a problem prior to 1950, and the advent of satellite coverage in the early 1970s has resulted in a virtually complete record over the past 3 decades …”:

      • Given the US trend graph above it’s reasonable to infer that over the post-WW2 years the response to wildfires has lessened the risk greatly so here is a question for Luke:
        If your statement:”… climate change is leading to more fires and more severe fires across much of North America ..” were true, what would be the more rational use of available national wealth?:
        (a) invest in more and better firefighting resources, better inspection, monitoring and quicker response capability and the like … or …
        (b) build many more windmills?
        Similar questions would apply to the many other climate risks beloved of alarmists

      • I would expect that forest fires have been allowed to burn in Canada to a larger extent than in the U.S. Larger area,less threat to people and more difficult access dictate that approach.

    • Yeah but no! A warm dry year is not climate change! It’s weather! There were dry years in the early 2000s, the 90’s, the 80’s, the 60’s; am I boring you yet? The 30’s and the 1880’s and I probably missed a few. Today’s headlines DO NOT describe the world as it has always been!

    • Sinister Voice
      Luke, you can destroy carbon emissions. I have foreseen this. Join me — together we can control the Earth’s climate!

  53. Nonsense, Luke. Face it, you need to quit drinking the Kool Ade. Makes you even dumber (if that’s possible).

  54. Remember Yellowstone? Same deal here. Suppress fire for long enough and mother nature will give you a spanking!

    • You haven’t kept up with the literature. Lodgepole pine forests are not ponderosa pine forests. Large crown fires are the norm in lodgepole.

  55. Jeff and Wayne, I agree – there should have been real firebreaks, not in terms of meters, but in terms of at least a mile. That would have certainly prevented this tragedy. Moreover, the timber thus cleared could have been used effectively, so it would not have been a waste of trees, either.

  56. By not willing to sacrifice a few trees around the town for firebreaks, now, millions of trees are being sacrificed! What are authorities thinking allowing towns to be built in the middle of the woods without proactive fire-prevention steps?

    • The answer to that is… Instead of removing trees along roads and around the City, they were forced to plant more by environmental extremists. A two mile wide fire break woulda been out of the question.

      “In Fort McMurray, it seems like history is repeating itself. In 2011, another city in northern Alberta, called Slave Lake, also had a massive fire tear through town, also in May, the dry season. A massive evacuation. Damage totaled $800 million.

      So 18 months later, the province produced a report. Their very first recommendation to prevent another fire like that was that municipalities cut down trees near buildings, roads and hospitals.

      And the report was ignored, by the PCs, then the NDP. So they’re partly to blame.

      But so are environmental extremists.

      You see, they think cutting down a single tree is a shameful act.

      In Fort McMurray, they didn’t cut down trees next to highways and buildings. Under pressure from eco-extremists, they planted more of them, in the name of “eco-tourism.”

      The town also adopted a “green plan,” ensuring “that natural features of development sites (trees, vegetation, wetlands, etc.) are not removed or filled.”

      http://www.therebel.media/ezra_levant_may_6

      So as you can see, making mile wide fire breaks would be impossible. Well at least until now hopefully.

      As to why build a City in such a remote area as some have asked? It’s about a five hour drive from Edmonton. Makes for a very long commute.

      • The town also adopted a “green plan,” ensuring “that natural features of development sites (trees, vegetation, wetlands, etc.) are not removed or filled.”

        OK, now the trees are removed by fire from a pretty large spot. Are they satisfied now I wonder.

      • When applying for a facility in the Fort McMurray region, such as an access road or pipeline corridor, the project proponent comes (came?) under considerable pressure to minimize the total width and to choose a route that missed any large “old growth” trees. The opposite of fire safety. We wound up arguing about individual trees on numerous occasions.

  57. Here is an off-the-wall idea:

    Cut down the old-growth trees that fuel these wildfires. Grind up the trees and burn them as fuel in the coal-fired power plants that the NDP wants to scrap. That would cause much less air pollution and asthma problems than the alternative solution – “controlled” forest burns to remove the fuel for wildfires, causing severe air pollution.

    Sure this logging and transportation plan would cost a lot more than controlled forest burns, but probably would cost less and provide much more reliable electricity than the intermittent wind power that the NDP wants to hugely expand in southern Alberta (and besides, their wind power plan just will NOT work).

    Regards, Allan

    • Hell, burn trees to make steam for bitumen recovery. Less hauling, more clearing and no gas consumption. Plus the greenies would go nuts!

  58. Well, Notley slashed the forest firefighting budget from $500 million to $86 million, cancelling a water bomber contract. Obviously her predecessor did not do much after the Slave Lake arson and really Canada, obliging Soros’ agenda by sending $600 million to neofascists in eastern Europe, spending hundred of millions in a photo op refugee feel good stuff and failing our own population when it comes to preparedness to natural, always occurring wild forest fires, is simply disgusting.
    Notley should resign now, especially after calling the leader of the opposition a “fear monger”, hours before the guy lost his own home.

  59. Timing is everything with wildfires. Our part of Washington State was severely torched last summer and weather, not climate, was a factor. We’re a desert, but a somewhat humid desert, and we have a lot of brushland and thin forests that love to burn. A great deal of drama and speculation comes out during a burn, but sometimes something really beautiful happens. Hopefully this John Lindsey photo will link correctly but if not check his facebook page.

    http://s184.photobucket.com/user/wyodivot/media/dc10.jpg.html

      • I’ve spent some time on the Bearspaw reserve near Nordegg. This is one of the most beautifully wild and dangerous places on the planet. Any manner of misadvendture involving weather or wildlife or flaura can occur. And does. Love it there.

    • Sutter is not CNN. Sutter is Sutter. And pretty much a political opportunist ready to tell untruths.

      • The article was prominently displayed on CNN’s front page, just under the headline story, when it came out. When you click on the link, one of the first things you see is CNN’s banner at the top of the page. Also, it was written by “John D. Sutter, CNN”. There is now an editors note, which I hadn’t noticed before, saying it’s an opinion piece.

    • Re “CNN is now attributing the fire to climate change.”

      So did some panelist on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), or as some call it “Pravda Canada”.

      First, the current warm temperatures in Alberta are caused by the recent El Nino and the warm ocean blob off Alaska, not alleged “climate change”.

      Next, using the term “climate change” defines the user as an unscientific imbecile.

      To be clear, the (failed) hypothesis is “catastrophic humanmade global warming”, wherein alleged humanmade increases in atmospheric CO2 will allegedly cause runaway global warming – so the correct term for this failed hypo is “global warming”.

      It is by now clear that the sensitivity of Earth’s climate to increased atmospheric CO2 is very small = 1 degree C or less for a hypothetical doubling of CO2.

      There is NO humanmade global warming crisis – it exists only in the minds of scoundrels and imbeciles.

      Regards to all, Allan

  60. They never learned their lesson from the slave lake fire almost two years ago now. The old PC government did whatever the treehuggers wanted, and they didn’t fire breaks cut or controlled burns anywhere in the province. The result has been the burning of Slave Lake and now FT Mac. Those are just two towns, there are plenty more just like them waiting to go up in flames.

  61. The investigation of the 2011 Slave Lake fire concluded the cause was arson. So the two choices in the title are not the only choices. If lightning is ruled out, that pretty much just leaves human causes. Accidental or on purpose? The green mob … oops, blob … has been fanning the flames against Fort Mac, metaphorically at least.

  62. This is exactly what happened in Canberra in 2003. The Greens and allied weasels prevented any meaningful level of fuel reduction burning from happening. The resulting fire was so hot, burning embers from the fire on the West of the city were raining down and starting fires on the North-East.

    • Greens want to conserve the woods so that they can be burn. The CO2 emission from uncontrolled fire are apparently better than when the wood replaces some fossil coal as fuel.

  63. Only two words come to mind with any fire disastrous for people — proximity and fuel load. We had one of these in Canberra about 15 years ago. A pine plantation on the other side of the road.

  64. Eric, don’t know if you saw this on our ABC today. Canada has fires effecting a city, yet sea level rise has now swallowed entire islands. Sea (ocean) level rise just went local and is marching Island by Island.
    This stuff flows daily from the ABC.
    http://ab.co/1Xdiife

    • I notice they don’t allow comments…
      Good move from their perspective, otherwise I’m sure a lot of people would be correcting that disinformation.

  65. Watching the NASA map of how and when those different locations of the Alberta fires occurred, and knowing that a U of A professor says that the fire was likely caused by humans, I’m not so convinced that it was NOT STARTED due to a procedure to get oil out of rock.

    Yes, officials say now that the tar sands are not themselves flammable. In other words, the tar is not that flammable. But, oil is very flammable. Just think of all of those oil wells that Saddam Hussein set on fire in Iraq when he was alive!! Also, the chemicals and gases released by “steam-assisted gravity systems” to get oil out of rock, are highly flammable.

    I think it might be likely that we will hear later that there was a lot of incompetence in the way that oil was extracted from the ground in the Fort Mac area, putting it’s residents under grave risk and fire danger. Specifically, the cracking of the caprock that “acts as a primary but not always impermeable seal that keeps steamed bitumen from seeping into aquifers, neighbouring industry wellbores and other geological formations, AS WELL AS THE FOREST FLOOR and lakes.”

    I grabbed this from the link I’m providing here:
    http://thetyee.ca/News/2013/10/07/Next-Oil-Sands-Threat/

    “High-pressured blasts of steam can create fractures in the protective cap rock that keeps the bitumen from flowing to the surface or into aquifers. Fluid injection can also reactivate existing faults or fractures and lead to leaks to the surface, other bitumen wells or groundwater.”

    It is incorrect to say that bitumen is not highly flammable.

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/07/17/3681738/canadian-pipeline-spill-near-tar-sands/

    What if the fire was started due to oil pipeline leaks and steam assisted “blow outs?”

    • Highly improbable speculation by Tina. Basically just wrong.

      Athabasca bitumen does not burn easily or even flow at ambient temperatures.

      Bitumen has a consistency like road tar – it is thick and black.

      To pipeline bitumen, we thin it by diluting it 50:50 with condensate or light oil – and this diluted bitumen (dilbit) will indeed burn – but it is a different product.

      So Tina, as a penance for your sins, kindly donate at least $100 to the Red Cross.
      https://donate.redcross.ca/ea-action/action?gclid=CNrV7b65xswCFQYIaQodJg8FDw&ea.client.id=1951&ea.campaign.id=50639

      Go forth and sin no more,,,

      • I have used everyday terms for the above post.

        For the record, I have two engineering degrees and in a past life participated in several committees for Syncrude Canada Ltd. – then the largest oilsands project on the planet. I chaired the Mining Committee and the Technical Committee, among others, and sat on several more including the Management Committee.

        As Manager of Oilsands, I also had one other large mining project (OSLO) and one in-situ project (PCEJ).

        The Athabasca oilsands are a natural deposit of bituminous Cretaceous sands that outcrop at Fort McMurray and are bisected by the Athabasca River, and have eroded into the river for millennia.

        The surface mining projects are actually cleaning up one of the world’s largest natural oil spills.

        Farther from the river, the oilsands are more deeply buried and so in-situ technology (typically SAGD) is used to recover the bitumen.

        It is truly regrettable that so many uninformed people choose to slag Athabasca oilsands projects, based on their woeful ignorance about science, technology and economics.

        The oilsands have been the primary economic engine of the Alberta and Canadian economies for several decades, and through transfer payments and jobs have financially supported all of Canada.

        The total transfer payments from Alberta to the rest of Canada total about 1 million dollars per Alberta family of four (with nominal interest) over the past ~50 years.

        All this from a town of less than 100,000 hardworking, decent people – people who are now burned out of their homes due to the incompetence of our governments and their pandering to a gang of phony green fanatics.

        Regards to all, Allan

    • There is no cause for speculation of this kind.

      First, understand bitumen production near Fort McMurray has a 50 year history (100 years at a non-commercial scale). Billions of barrels of oil produced.

      Second, the Alberta Forest Service assigns a cause to each fire if at all possible.

      Therefore, there is no mystery, no maybe. This is an question with a known answer, and the answer is the oil sands producers do not have a history of starting fires.

      As for burning bitumen, that is essentially impossible. Some of the oil sands operators upgrade the bitumen on site to something similar to a light sweet crude oil, and ship that light oil – which will burn. If the bitumen would burn, there would be ground fires all over the region from previous forest fires – because the bituminous sands outcrop from every creek valley wall – and there are no such fires.

  66. Well I have read most of this post in detail and also gone to a number of the links to see for my self what the real deal is. I find that much of what is being discussed misses the real point and why these things are a problem. As we learned in Victoria in 2009, when you have years of drought followed by adverse weather conditions on a landscape that has been allowed to accumulate combustible debris for decades, a wildfire – is inevitable. To be really scary it has to be fanned by 80 to 120km/hr winds – to create a deadly firestorm. We faced that firestorm and in my town – 207 houses out of 324 were lost – including mine. Many tried to link to Global Warming (not climate change as it hadn’t been invented at that point). It was really the result of the combination of events – drought, heat, fuel, wind, ignition (in our case a broken powerline). The proximity of houses on small blocks made of combustible materials (eg wood) also enhanced the level of destruction by house to house ignition.

    The real problem is the expansion of our cities into the surrounding wilderness where the urban fringe is directly affected by such fires. The worst fires in Victoria’s history were in 1851 when a quarter of the state burned and more people died in proportion to the population of Victoria than in 2009! – that was well before someone said it was due to our SUVs and airplanes or the excessive use of fossil fuels.

    The reality is that prescribed burns and fire breaks cannot make any impression on firestorms in 100km/hr winds where embers can start spot fires more than 20km beyond the fire front. Various Royal Commissions have tried to find solutions – prescribed burns – allowing the forest to burn naturally – logging to reduce density of forests etc. The reality is that following 2009 we had 2 years of La Nina heavy rains – the forests have regrown – the combustible debris isn’t as dense – but it is there – and we have had more fires.

    What is the solution. Don’t build in these areas houses of combustible materials (I bet that most of the houses in Alberta are wood?). Have very strict building codes if you want to live in a forest. A tin roof doesn’t cut it. I have re-built – it is rammed earth – 400mm thick – double glazed windows and fire doors all with outside fire shutters – and a wrap over fire blanket in the roof space that can tolerate direct flame below the steel roof. Then a fire bunker for everyone – so you can survive even if he house catches fire – then come out and put it out. Evacuation takes away that option for people and they can only watch their houses burn.

    I feel for the people of Alberta – it is not nice but can be endured and perhaps – if you start again and do it right – the future will be better.

    • Thank you Melbourne – good comments.

      My son did grad school in Oz and I visited him there in 2005.

      What a wonderful country you have – my all-time favorite in the six continents where I have done business.

      Best, Allan

      • Thanks Allan

        I am a naturalised Ossie – I love it here – and we accept the dangers of living in the forest. The fire history is long and fearsome and has been here long before “climate change”. It just annoys me so much when I see people trying to use the fires for political capital. Changing our emissions will not remove that risk.

        I have met many Canadians – in fact have a great friend of mine living close whom I walk my dogs with – and her house survived the 2009 fires. Thems are the breaks!

        Stay safe

  67. They have 16 water bombers on this fire as of this morning.

    If they can’t protect the community now with that amount of resources, it will speak to the value of water bombers in the first place.

    And 1600 structures burnt is only about 3.0% of the buildings/homes. Most of the community is still there.

    • Given current conditions, I doubt there is much they can do except try to protect certain areas. It looks like the fire may be doubling in size today.

  68. re: “Understaffed, under-resourced forestry workers struggling to contain a growing risk of wildfire,”
    Would overstaffed, over-resourced government workers still have struggled to contain a growing risk of a fire-dependant boreal forest ecosystem wildfire?

  69. Trees have evolved to use fire in their reproductive cycle. They’re prone to burn by design. Preventing that is equivalent to GMO forests. It’s just one more thing our geniuses can screw up with government money.

  70. According to Joe Bastardi at Weatherbell Analytics things will remain dry in the region. That is not good at all and this just in:

    Alberta battles The Beast, a fire that creates its own weather

    http://edmontonjournal.com/news/insight/alberta-battles-the-beast-a-fire-that-creates-its-own-weather-and-causes-green-trees-to-explode

    The 2001 wildfire that went through the central Alberta hamlet of Chisholm burned at 233,000 kilowatts per metre, Flannigan says. At the 2011 Slave Lake fire, the heat was 33,000 kilowatts per metre. For context, if a fire is burning at 10,000 kilowatts per metre, it’s generally deemed that aircraft water bombing is less — or no longer — effective.

    The Beast is what regional fire chief Darby Allen calls the Fort McMurray fire, and it might well be that the Fort McMurray fire is burning as hot as Chisholm, an issue that Flannigan and his team will soon investigate. The two fires already share one other indicator of unprecedented intensity, with both fires producing pyro cumulonimbus clouds, thunder and lightning storms generated by the fire’s smoke column.

  71. Alberta has little history of wildfires which self-manage fuel and, to some extent, create natural firebreaks. The conditions for this explosive wildfire are the result of (1) no previous wildfires in this area and (2) unusual weather conditions which dried out the fuel. Unusual weather patterns could be the related to climate change. As far as “incompetence” – dude you are an ass. Go out there yourself and create a km-wide firebreak.

    • There is no evidence they are related to “climate change”. You might as well say the unusual weather patterns could be related to space aliens. So you don’t like the word “incompetence”. What then would you call not doing things that you know should be done to stave off a fire like this, which was just waiting for the right weather conditions to come along?

      • Good comments by Bruce Cobb and false, ignorant comments by Tom Krahl, who said:
        “As far as “incompetence” – dude you are an ass. Go out there yourself and create a km-wide firebreak.”

        Here is the evidence of government incompetence:
        https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2016/05/08/albertas-wildfire/

        “And as Bernie Schmitte, forestry manager in Fort McMurray, explained:

        “The boreal forest is a fire-dependant ecosystem. The spruce trees, pine trees, they like to burn,”

        “They have to burn to regenerate themselves, and those species have adapted themselves to fire. Their cones have adapted so they open up after the fire has left, and the trees have adapted in that once they’re old and need to be replaced, they’re available to fire so they burn.”

        There is a much bigger proportion of older trees now because of earlier fire suppression, and it is these that are most combustible.”
        ___________

        In summary:

        1. These older trees must be cleared from near towns or firestorms are inevitable. Pandering to green fanatics who oppose the cutting of older trees is the root cause of the Fort McMurray fire and other disasters, like the Slave Lake fire of 2011.

        2. And firebreaks DO help – but they have to be in place before the fire, and they have to be very wide to be effective, especially in a firestorm.

        At Fort Mac we have huge fleets of the largest heavy equipment on the planet – we can cut wide firebreaks in a few weeks – but incompetent governments pandering to phony green fanatics made this impossible.

  72. Strong El Nino years can significantly impact the climate in Western Canada as we have seen this year and in the past. Early Spring Rainfall is especially impacted. in some areas.
    Ft McMurray received very little rain during the last major El Nino 1997/1998 during April and May.
    In 1997 it received 1.4 mm and 13.6 mm during April and May . During 1998 it received 21.6 mm and 13.6 mm during April and May .. Typically the April rainfall is low any way ,0.6- 23 mm but May gets to 40-50 mm. Significant rain did not fall until June , 90 mm in 1997 and 43.4mm in 1998. So things were lucky in 1997/1998 but not so in 2016. There may be little relief for the current forest fire situation until June if climate history is any guide..

  73. a little caturday afternoon music, with SoCal brush fire time lapse…

    this was the Station Fire… you could see it from Vista, down in San Diego County.

  74. fhttp://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/fort-mcmurray-wildfire-saturday-1.3571678 for those that still think the oils sands are burning please read this.

  75. I found this scientist’s blog via Climate Etc. He goes after the activists saying it’s climate change and he gives evidence that it’s not.
    https://achemistinlangley.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/on-forest-fires-climate-activist-arent-just-insensitive-they-are-also-wrong/
    That post brought complaints from the activists, so the next post is also interesting, about activists yelling wolf too often.
    https://achemistinlangley.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/on-fighting-climate-change-running-a-marathon-and-climate-activists-crying-wolf/

    I’ve never been there, but the whole thing about “this is climate change” is crazy. It’s clearly an area that is very dry in the spring and has huge areas where conditions are just right for a big fire. Sometimes drier that others, but in general conditions are right for fires and there are fires… somewhere. Where the fires are just depends on where the triggers are, whether lightning or human caused. And if the fire starts when there is big wind, there will be a big fire.

  76. They have too much old trees in Alberta. To prevent further spread of wildfire, invite logging companies to cut all trees surrounding the 26 sq. km. wildfire. Let them use the trees for lumber. With profit incentive, they will quickly denude the forest faster than the wildfire.

  77. Alberta and British Columbia to the west are both about 1M km2 in area. A good portion of BC is forest on crown land. The logging rate is less than 1% of forest per year, while the time to mature is 60 years or so. That, plus fire suppression, eventually leads to over-mature forest. Also, Greenies have put over 15% of land into parks to preserve nature, but some fire burn to bare soil because of “let them burn naturally” policy.

    There is too much forest in the world for humans needs, now that don’t use wood for heat/cooking. Forests are not carbon sinks, they are reservoirs with a maximum mass.

    • A vigorous logging industry will prevent uncontrolled forest fires. Cut old trees and replant new ones. Wildfires rarely occur in commercial forests.

  78. The greatest danger to any forest anywhere are Greenies. Know for a fact they where the first ones to run away from Ft,Mac, Politicians and greenies……immense menace to mankind and nature.

  79. “why didn’t you build more wind turbines?”. HA!
    Further, why didn’t they chop down more trees to make room for wind turbines? ;)

  80. It’s good for that type of forest to experience these burns. Maybe a preventative firewall would have worked, but I’m more concerned with how the fire started. There have been attacks on oil trains resulting in derailments, before. This might be another attack on the Oil Sands, IMO., I would investigate for possible arson.

    • “Pat Paulsen May 8, 2016 at 4:50 am

      …I’m more concerned with how the fire started.”

      My thoughts too as is reported, ignition source is still unknown. Deliberate? We here in New South Wales in Australia the “authorities” are back burning. So the whole region is shrouded in a smoky cloud…and rightly so.

  81. A scientifically designed fire break around Fort McMurray is the the main cause of this disaster. A ‘controlled fire ring’ and a no vegetation zone must now be created.

  82. One wonders how AGW was responsible. We are alleged to have added what? .4c to the alleged 1.2c for the last 150 years?

    So that .4c is a global average, so we divide it between the individual sites used to capture data present in the record.

    So what is .4 divided by every location used to capture data in the record that shows a warming anomaly?

    and that tiny fraction of an average over Alberta has apparently set trees on fire, .00000000000000something degrees of “ALLEGED” warming at that.

    BAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    it’s a wonder my sauna doesn’t go up in flames, being made of dry wood and the air 110c degrees.

    These people are mentally ill.

  83. I was at a presentation on District Energy last week and one opportunistic speaker could not resist pontificating on the hot topic of the Fort McMurray fire, saying maybe now people will believe in climate change. There was not even a nod to the human tragedy underway. Aside from raising my blood pressure, it led me to ask: Fort McMurray 2016 Fire — Man-made Climate Change or Natural Variability? I remembered a bit of Alberta history and found this article.

    ——————————————————–

    The beginning of what some people thought was the end of the world started with a small wildfire in the northeast corner of British Columbia.

    It had been an exceptionally hot spring and forest fire managers were too busy with other fires in B.C., Alberta and the southern Yukon to do anything about a blaze that was remote and so far away from human settlement. The policy was to ignore fires that were 15 kilometres away from roads or human settlements.

    Within a few days, though, the fire crossed into Alberta’s Chinchaga wild lands. Fuelled by a tinder dry forest that seemingly went on forever, the relatively small blaze developed into a wildfire of such monstrous proportions that the thickness of the smoke led some people in Ontario to believe that an atomic bomb had exploded and that the western world was at war with Russia.

    Aircraft were grounded. Farmers milked their cows earlier, chickens went to roost and the U.S. air force postponed a search for a missing plane.

    The blaze burned for 222 days and torched a stretch of forest that was 245 kilometres long. It was and still is the biggest forest fire to hit Canada in modern times.

    More than 14,000 square kilometres of forest went up in flames. Smoke from the fire could be detected as far away as Great Britain and Holland. The heat was so intense in spots that it changed the chemistry of the soil to the point where trees could not regenerate.

    “Anyone who witnessed it, as I did, the great smoke pall can never forget the eeriness of the occurrence and the extraordinary gloom,” Canadian astronomer Helen Swayer Hogg wrote in The Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada 15 years later.

    “The sun was turned to various shades of blue or violet over much of the eastern part of the continent.”The Globe and Mail and Toronto Star newspapers wrote articles and published illustrations explaining why the city of Toronto had to turn on the street lights at midday.

    It was not an alien invasion as some people feared. Nor was it an eclipse of the sun, as others believed. But in places such as Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Fort Erie and New York, it was so dark that the lights at baseball stadiums had to be turned on to illuminate mid-afternoon ball games.

    An article in the New York Times quoted one woman who told how her rooster was so confused it crowed at 4 p.m., thinking it was dawn.

    Another article in a Jamestown, N.Y., paper described how chickens that had spread out for their midday foraging “suddenly realized they were being caught by darkness, so they scurried back across the cow yard in more than usual earnest, their heads moving in delayed jerks.”

    One elderly man in the town of Busti in New York State was so frazzled when a relative went in to check on him, he was shaking like a leaf. “Do you think this is the end of the world?” he asked.

    “Everyone remembers what he was doing when he heard that President Kennedy had been shot, that Pearl Harbor was bombed or that either world war had ended,” local historian Norman Carlson wrote in the Jamestown Post Journal.

    “So too everyone my age and older remembers another event: a Sunday afternoon when the sun ceased to give her light and our primitive fears of –darkness, mortality and powerlessness rose at least near enough to the surface to etch a lasting trace that belied our outward calm.”

    ————————————————————————————–

    The year was 1950. Before the modern era of climate change. According to Wikipedia the Chinchaga or Wisp fire is the single largest recorded fire in North American history. Article source: Edmonton Journal, shortly after the Slave Lake fire in 2011.

    One event does not make for a climate model verification. Neither do two episodic events far apart in time demonstrate a trend or that it is natural variability. But at least we should ask whether our forecasts of the future, especially where they are inflection points to ‘catastrophe’ demanding radical government interventions (the speaker today wanted carbon prices in BC to go from $30 to $100 in the short term and to $700 by 2050), are consistent with the record of the past. Perhaps the models are not yet as foolproof as nature is resilient.

    ————————————————-
    Our regards to all of our friends in Alberta, and especially to those facing the devastating loss of their homes and businesses in Fort McMurray. These are neighbourhoods I walked about 40 years ago, early in my career. It is painful to watch the flames, but reassuring to see the amount of help neighbours are giving to each other. I only hope, in the aftermath, they do not have to endure too much proselytizing and pseudo-science from your BC neighbours.

  84. https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2016/05/08/albertas-wildfire/

    And as Bernie Schmitte, forestry manager in Fort McMurray, explained:

    “The boreal forest is a fire-dependant ecosystem. The spruce trees, pine trees, they like to burn,”

    “They have to burn to regenerate themselves, and those species have adapted themselves to fire. Their cones have adapted so they open up after the fire has left, and the trees have adapted in that once they’re old and need to be replaced, they’re available to fire so they burn.”

    There is a much bigger proportion of older trees now because of earlier fire suppression, and it is these that are most combustible.

  85. UPDATE ON THE FORT MAC FIRE

    This article from Fort McMurray Today, the local newspaper, has a good summary and photos. About 2400 structures, just over 10% of the town were lost, but about 90% including all the major structures like the hospital, muni buildings and all schools were saved.

    Given the reality of this very hot firestorm, this sounds (on balance) like a win to me – a big win for the fire crews, and a lesser win for the good people of Fort Mac. It could have been much worse, like the Slave Lake fire in 2011 where 1/3 of the town was destroyed.

    Still it was a big loss for the government authorities, who reportedly under-reacted to the initial blaze, letting it get out of control, and failed to apply the simple lessons learned from the 2011 Slave Lake fire to Alberta municipalities.

    In summary, this is what should have been done, according to the experts:

    1. Older trees must be cleared from near towns or firestorms are inevitable. Government pandering to phony green fanatics who oppose the cutting of older trees was the root cause of the Fort McMurray fire and other disasters, like the Slave Lake fire of 2011.

    2. Firebreaks DO help – but they have to be in place before the fire, and they have to be very wide to be effective, especially in a firestorm.

    Regards, Allan
    ____________________

    FORT MCMURRAY FIRE: PREMIER RACHEL NOTLEY SAYS 2,400 STRUCTURES DESTROYED IN FORT MCMURRAY
    Monday, May 9, 2016 5:22:59 MDT PM

    http://www.fortmcmurraytoday.com/2016/05/09/premier-rachel-notley-to-tour-fort-mcmurray-wildfire-damage-today

    “She said a total of 2,400 structures have burned – just more than 10 per cent of the city – but major infrastructure like the hospital, municipal buildings and all the schools have been saved.

    Another 12 structures were destroyed in Anzac.

    Of the 88,000 people evacuated, more than 40,000 are in Edmonton, 5,000 in Calgary and another 2,000 in Lac La Biche with 25,000 who have registered but haven’t said where they are staying.

    The fire now covers 204,000 hectares and continues to be fought. It spread further east Sunday but with cooler weather Monday, firefighters have been able to move closer to it.

    More cool weather is expected and fire crews have been able to use heavy equipment to keep it from spreading faster.”

  86. According to the grapevine, a fleet of local helicopters were geared up by their owner to fight the fledgling Fort Mac fire, but he was told they were not needed…

    Also, the Alberta forest-fire-fighting budget had been slashed by the NDP and some or all such contracts were not even in place.
    – See the exchange with Premier Rachel below from the Alberta Legislature on May 3, when the fire was already burning dangerously close to Fort Mac.

    But don’t worry, all is well – the NDP has doubled the Carbon Tax, and has a plan to replace our cheap, reliable coal plants with expensive, intermittent wind power…

    ****************

    NOTLEY ACCUSED OPPOSITION OF “FEARMONGERING” OVER FIRE RISK
    Peter Muggeridge | May 6th, 2016

    http://www.everythingzoomer.com/notley-accused-opposition-fear-mongering-fire-risk/

    In the days of before the Northern Alberta fires began burning uncontrollably – causing the evacuation of the entire town Fort McMurray – Premier Rachel Notley accused opposition leader Brian Jean of “fearmongering” and “grandstanding” when he voiced concerns over the province’s wildfire preparedness.

    The exchange took place on May 3 in the Alberta legislature. Premier Notley took issue with Wildrose Party leader Jean when he asked her if NDP budget cuts had left communities like Fort McMurray dangerously exposed to wildfire, especially during this abnormally hot and dry spring.

    Here’s a shortened version of their exchange:

    Mr. Jean: In Fort McMurray neighbours, friends, and oil sands workers have either had to leave their homes or watch as fires burn very closely to them on the border of our city. Albertans are worried that the NDP doesn’t know what a serious threat these wildfires are … How can the Premier possibly defend these types of decisions, putting our communities in Alberta at risk?

    Ms Notley: Well, Mr. Speaker, I don’t have to defend those types of decisions because we didn’t make those types of decisions. The member opposite once again has his facts wrong. We have the resources that we need. They are in place in Fort McMurray.

    Mr. Jean: In February a tender was issued for a water-skimming air tanker group. On April 29 this government cancelled the tender. All water-skimming aircraft currently contracted are from Abbotsford, B.C., based Conair. Can the Premier please explain right now to Albertans why this contract was scrapped and why we are settling for slower, short-range, smaller, and less capacity water tanker aircraft?

    Ms Notley: [W]e’ve made it very clear and all the contractors know full well that when we need them, they need to be there. They are there. They are being hired. Every resource that is required is being dedicated to this fire, and the members opposite should stop the fearmongering.

    Mr. Jean: This is not fearmongering, Mr. Speaker. You can’t cut $400 million from wildfire management and say that you’re serious about fighting these fires … Will the Premier today reverse these terrible decisions so we can make sure that our communities and Albertans are safe?

    Ms Notley: [W]e have access to the same number of tankers and all the same amount of equipment that we had before, and we will use that and more, if necessary, because we are concerned about getting the job done in Fort McMurray. We are not interested in engaging in political grandstanding and fearmongering.

    *************

    Epilogue:

    Wild Rose Party leader Brian Jean’s house was among the 2400 structures in Fort Mac that were destroyed by this wildfire.

    Brian Jean lost his 24-year-old son one year ago in March 2015 to misdiagnosed lymphoma. He carries on…
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/alberta/alberta-wildrose-leader-brian-jean-enters-critical-stretch-of-campaign/article24070378/

      • Context?

        Both Mars fought fires near Fort McMurray in 2011, operating from Gregoire Lake which was too close the fires this year.

        (The Mars is only a seaplane, so for efficient use requires a sizeable body of water relatively close to the fire. Perhaps for inefficient use Lake Athabaska could be used, the Mars fought fires well into Mexico from a reservoir in Texas, but that’s unusual. (40 minutes flying, IIRC round trip. The Mars is limited to gelled water, foamed water, and water whereas landplanes can deliver a retardant-water mix that persists for much longer so is good for creating fire breaks in some vegetation configurations – such as in the sagebrush north of Kamploops.)

        And this year the one Mars still usable for fire fighting was undergoing annual maintenance when Fort McMurray had the need. (Those fires were relatively early, though I’m advised that’s not unusual in NE BC/northern AB.)

        (Without government interest Coulson probably did not rush to spend on the maintenance, perhaps he started when a plan to demonstrate it at the renowned Oskosh WI show was being developed. There’s an opportunity for many readers to see it in action.)

        Certainly are tough questions to ask of the BC government about the Mars, including why they now tout a landplane when last year they were touting small amphibians (and making false claims about their speed), in both cases as reasons to not put the Mars on contract.

        Firefighting is politics.

  87. r.euronews.com/2016/05/10/exclusif-des-dechets-nucleaires-et-toxiques-etaient-stockes-a-fort-mcmurray/

    is it true ?

  88. Above ink should be fr.

    Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Office
    http://www.cnl.ca/en/home/environmental-stewardship/llrwmo.aspx

    The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Office (LLRWMO) was established in 1982 to carry out the responsibilities of the federal government for the management of historic low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) in Canada. The Office is operated by CNL through a cost-recovery agreement with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, the federal Crown corporation that provides funding, direction and priorities for the LLRWMO.

    The LLRWMO manages historic LLRW at numerous waste sites located throughout Canada and has successfully completed projects in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and the Northwest Territories. The Office responds to questions from the public, conducts consultation and stakeholder engagement activities and establishes partnerships to resolve LLRW issues within local communities.

    The LLRWMO is committed to protecting public health and the environment, while performing its duties in a timely and cost effective manner. The LLRWMO has completed many successful remediation projects in its more than 30-year history.

    I did not see Fort McMurray on this list – but this is not conclusive.
    http://www.cnl.ca/en/home/environmental-stewardship/decommissioning/default.aspx

    CNL manages all of Canada’s nuclear legacy liabilities at CNL sites.

    CNL is responsible for implementing the program by carrying out decommissioning and site remediation work and managing the legacy waste. This work involves:
    •Ensuring regulatory compliance, safety and effectiveness;
    •Identifying priorities and developing annual plans;
    •Reporting on approved activities; and
    •Holding and administering licences, facilities, lands, materials and other asset responsibilities related to the nuclear legacy liabilities.

    CNL manages legacy liabilities at the following sites in Canada:
    •Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario, with about 70 per cent of the liabilities;
    •Whiteshell Laboratories and the nearby Underground Research Laboratory in Manitoba, with about 20 per cent of the liabilities;
    •Three shutdown prototype reactors, with about 10 per cent of the liabilities:
    •Nuclear Power Demonstration (NPD) reactor in Rolphton, Ontario;
    •Douglas Point reactor in Kincardine, Ontario;
    •Gentilly-1 reactor in Bécancour, Quebec.

    • Residents of Fort Mcmurray there are no such arsonists. Go for a wide fire break of scientific width or else have all future constructions of brick-mortar.

  89. Clarifying my reference to oil ands lighter than northern AB:
    – those east of Edmonton on the AB-SK border have oil less heavy than those in northeast AB.
    – Venezuela’s oil sands also have oil less heavy than those in northeast AB. But voters there ruined the industry by electing a Marxist tyrant.
    It’s relative, none are light oil.

    (Another refining factor is contaminants. I recall that the oil found in the western High Arctic was good quality. Some was tested in the Montreal QC area, but there wasn’t enough found to justify a pipeline south.
    Much natural gas was found but there was already plenty of that in NE BC, piped to the west coast of Canada and US.
    I worked in the NG fields of NE BC in 1965, testing wells. Some of them were several decades old then, others much newer, and more has been found since both further north (Fort Nelson) and in the Peace River Block around Dawson Creek.
    A side note of interest is that the Montney basin in that area has “condensate” liquid and perhaps some oil, as well as NG. Companies were gearing up to develop those, one worker camp was to have 2500 residents, but I presume all is nought with low energy prices now – unless Cheerleader Clark pulls an export rabbit out of her hat (BC Premier Christy Clark still hopes much NG can be sported as liquid, to east Asia.)

  90. This event could have been a lot worse, the article needs better refinement to reflect its headline though.
    Thankfully people made it out, to see that was just terrible. It’s changed my views about that place of work and such, for the better that is, nobody should have to endure something as terrible as that.

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