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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CaligulaJones

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…

MarkW

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.

Kokoweef

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

Martin Hovland

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.

cgh

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.

Auto

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

Bye Doom

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.

David Ball

Please. It is “oil sands”. This is an important distinction.

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.”

David Ball

You have a problem with accuracy? Odd.

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”.

Stewart Pid

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.

CaligulaJones

Yes, I meant to type that term, must have had “morning brain”.

Catcracking

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.”

ShrNfr

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.

george e. smith

Nah ! It’s just 20W50 instead of 10W50.
g

Trenton

Research and knowing wtF you’re saying COULD have been your friend.

David Ball
May 6, 2016 at 8:08 am
Please. It is “oil sands”. This is an important distinction.

https://www.google.com/search?q=tar+sands+vs+oil+sands&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=ubuntu&channel=fs&gws_rd=ssl
Instead you sound like some kook who believes in the GHGE.

TrueNorthist

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.

Bye Doom

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.)

lol!!

george e. smith

thatsposetobe 10W30 please Chasmod.
G

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.

MarkW

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.

Bryan A

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:comment image?dl=0

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.

Ryan

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

Greg K

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.

FredericE

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.

Steve M

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.

george e. smith

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

Here’s an poignant view of the real tragedy of the situation. A man’s home video security system records his house being burned.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/fort-mcmurray-man-watches-his-home-burn-on-security-cam-1.3570690

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!

JohnB

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.

Jon

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.

Michael D

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.

kim

Heh, it’s making clouds, to and above the tropopause.
========

kim

Cumulous to, thin and odd cirrus above.
H/t An observer at 35K feet.
=================

kim

Excellent and thanks, Ric. The photo I saw showed the cauliflowers with a flattish top and cirrus above that. Unusual clouds, to be sure.
====================

The flattish tops and cirrus is typical of running into the tropopause.
If it has turned into a thunderstorm, then the fire cloud folks call it pyronimbocumulus, of course. 🙂

Ric, you should post about the October 1947 forest fires in Maine. In the south York County lost two towns, and in the north what is now Acadia National Park burned.
Where the media says “the worst ever” things have always been worse. The worst forest fire I know about was the Great Peshtigo Fire in 1871.
https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/fort-mcmurray-fire-vs-great-peshtigo-fire-1871/

Marcus

All that heat and it’s still only 8 C in Ft. McMurray right now !

ferdberple

That is the problem with anomalies. We hear “much hotter than normal”, when it should say “Less cold than normal”.

Fort McMurray saw record daily highs of 91°F on Tuesday and 89°F on Wednesday. The city gets this warm on only about five days in a typical year, and those days are usually in July or August (even then, the average daily high is between 70°F and 75°F).
https://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/the-fort-mcmurray-disaster-getting-beyond-is-it-climate-change

I could only find data for Fort Mcmurray back to 1944.
The really hot temps in Canada were 1936 to 1941
https://sunshinehours.net/2016/05/05/fort-mcmurray-and-climate-change/

Even the warmist Environment Canada states that the mild winter and early, warm, dry spring were probably caused by the lingering super El Nino.

Blayne Millington on May 6, 2016 at 9:19 am
Even the warmist Environment Canada states that the mild winter and early, warm, dry spring were probably caused by the lingering super El Nino.
No problem, burning of wood constracted forests is natural sustainable.

kim

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

tadchem

Elegant! I love it!

True, but one can be sustained forever by speaking immortal words:

My whole life is unsustainable. In fact, I’m quite certain it will end badly.
Layne Blanchard

u.k(us)

Ha

Jon

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.

Goldrider

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

george e. smith

Tactical logging is normally called “Carbon sequestration “.
G

Jon

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!

crosspatch

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.

JohnnyCrash

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.

MarkW

Feed beetles, then burn.

george e. smith

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.)

tadchem

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….

Ian H

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.

Mark

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.

MRW

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.

Ian H

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

4TimesAYear

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

Cam_S

Even though the Alberta government (NDP) was predicting “climate doom”, they cut the fire fighting budget before the fires started, and things got out of control.
NDP cuts fire-fighting budget while predicting “catastrophic’ conditions
http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/don-braid-ndp-cuts-fire-fighting-budget-while-predicting-catastrophic-conditions

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.

David Ball

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

Bill Illis

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.

Michael D

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.

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.

MarkW

I believe you are thinking of Yellowstone in Wyoming.

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.

PiperPaul

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.

Diogenese2

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.

They didn’t really lose any territory at Yellowstone, it merely burned, it didn’t burn away.
From 2003:
http://wermenh.com/biketour/images/P8100440_reseeded.jpg

Steve Case

The Green Blob …
The Green MOB

I prefer the term “Gang-Green” myself. You know, as in rotting flesh, as in something that badly needs cutting off to save the patient. Gangrene.

I am going to use the term, “Gang Green.”

Chuck L

Gang-Green is the nickname for my NY Jets!

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

crosspatch

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.

Matt Bergin

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

Mark from the Midwest

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.

PiperPaul

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.

Reduced budgets makes a large scale response take longer to organize and deploy.

bobl

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.

Boris

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.

Bruce Friesen

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”.

betapug

25 years of Fort McMurray temperature data are available here: http://fortmcmurray.weatherstats.ca/charts/temperature-25years.html
No sign of the apocalyptic trends that New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert’s opportunistic “Fires of Climate Change” profits from others suffering. http://www.newyorker.com/contributors/elizabeth-kolbert

FJ Shepherd

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

John Harmsworth

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!!!!!!!!!!

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.

DonM

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.

The Canadian federal government does not own much land.

SMC

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.

pbweather

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

John Harmsworth

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?

George Tetley

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.

Matt Bergin

That beastie would be the “Chuck Norris” of water bombers. 🙂

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.

PiperPaul

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.”

Joel Snider

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.’

RCPete

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.)

Joel Snider

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.

Joel Snider

Okay, it was in Eagle Point in 2012 – here’s a link to one writeup: http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/oregon-man-sentenced-30-days-jail-collecting-rainwater-his-property

Typical mismanagement by environmentalists. Arbitarary value judgements on logging and fire make for bad results.

M Seward

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.

kim

Yes, they did.
==========

Jenn Runion

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.

rogerknights

“This I know: Mother Nature is a maniac.”
—Epigraph to You Sane Men

Dave W

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..

LamontT

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.

Bruce Friesen

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.

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.

Hocus Locus

Also of note, don’t build your house in the path of a falling meteorite. [Thing One and Thing Two]

RCPete

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.)

MarkW

How are we going to squeeze everybody into the 15 square miles left?

Steve Fraser

Entrance fees…

Mickey Reno

We move them to San Francisco to live in high rise buildings, where nothing can possibly go wrong.

Dave in Canmore

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

Mike

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.

lance

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!!!

Bruce Friesen

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.

David Ball

Great info, Dave. Thanks.

Bruce Cobb

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.

Mike

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.

Bob Burban

” 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…..

MarkW

Pineapples have an end that isn’t rough?

Matt Bergin

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 .

Matt Bergin

Sorry my parents live in Ontario. I didn’t make that clear.

commieBob

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!

+1

CodeTech

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.

jorgekafkazar

“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.

mebbe

jorge,
iococusque acutus.

Bill Illis

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.

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.

When it comes to fanatics, there is simply no bottom to the decency barrel. That’s why they’re losing the attention of the average person.
https://thepointman.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/some-thoughts-on-fanatics-and-how-to-fight-them/
Pointman

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.

crosspatch

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.

crosspatch

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.

betapug

Climate or incompetence? There is always a third option: http://earthfirstjournal.org/newswire/2015/10/30/massive-fire-at-monsanto-facility-likely-arson-says-investigators/
British Columbia has 40+ active fires, almost all human caused according to BC fire officials. The Fort McMurray fire considered also likely human caused as no lightning strikes when it started….accidentally on purpose?

RCPete

Severe weather conditions (AKA Red Flag) do bring out the pyromaniacs…

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…

John Harmsworth

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.

Bye Doom

Related …
ANALYSIS: California’s waterbomber fleet is matched only by its wildfire problem
https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/analysis-californias-waterbomber-fleet-is-matched-424300/

Mark

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.

MarkW

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.

.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

Mark

Elizabeth Kolbert makes a living from scaring people with junk science

skeohane

Maybe she is doing comedy like Steven…just not that funny.

jorgekafkazar

Steven? Funny?

skeohane

A play on spelling, Kolbert vs. Colbert, phonetically the same.

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

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.

betapug

Doug, take a look at http://fortmcmurray.weatherstats.ca/ No trends at all to support the Green blinkered apocalypse view. Last quarter century of temps particularly, is flat as the prairie. http://fortmcmurray.weatherstats.ca/charts/temperature-25years.html

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.

Paul Coppin

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.

John Harmsworth

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?

Alx

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

PA

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.

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.

PA

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.

buggs

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.

“Hideous(?) Poplar trees…” Don’t you mean Deciduous?

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.

PA

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

Hideous trees are unpoplar.

John Harmsworth

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

PaulH

James Delingpole’s takedown of the environmentalist [**beep**]s and their failures as human beings:
http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/05/05/greenies-fiddle-while-fort-mcmurray-burns/
“For those of a green persuasion, every natural disaster is not a crisis but an opportunity to gloat and say: “I told you so!””

PQ

Ft. Mac fire is currently ~85,000 ha. Chinchaga fire burned for months and consumed between 1.4 and 1.7 million ha. That was in 1950…
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinchaga_fire

Marcus

.. While I’m not exactly religious, I found this short read interesting !
“The climate gods and the political temple”
https://outlook.live.com/owa/?path=/mail/inbox/rp

601nan

Looks like 1988 Yellowstone Fires, all over again. Then as now due to mis-management of yearly fire-management (no burn at all) policies for a few decades created the tinder for the McMurray fires we see today.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowstone_fires_of_1988

tom elliott

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.

Marcus

Too Funny…comment image?oh=2a7d2e74d8c22ed3c89e477b55b1c2cd&oe=572E966F

Gary Pearse

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.

John Harmsworth

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

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.

beng135

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.

Mark

Greenies lolcomment image

That Oilsands site looks more like the sites near Cold Lake. In Ft Mac area, they are indeed open strip mines. However, after the oilsands are removed, the land is returned to as good or better than original condition.

The top is the Escondida copper mine in Chile, see http://www.miningglobal.com/top10/1663/PHOTOS-Top-10-Largest-Open-Pit-Mines-in-the-World
http://s14.postimg.org/966lxfdkh/Escondida_Copper_Mine.jpg
Just because you found it somewhere doesn’t mean its right.
While there are some open pit Lithium mines, I think most production is from brine recovery at dry lakes.
The bottom is from
http://www.megenergy.com/sites/default/files/user_uploaded/images/operations/PAD.jpg
and turns out to be a thermal recovery oil sands project in Alberta.

Javier

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.

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.

Latitude

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

Harold

Amen!

James at 48

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 …

DonK

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