Canada Is Fighting May Wildfires, Evacuating Towns, Diverting Alcan Traffic

IT'S FIRE SEASON  The Copper Valley's Black Spruce Are Primed And Ready To Burn  Fire in the black spruce forest, probably in the 19...


The Copper Valley's Black Spruce Are Primed And Ready To Burn 

Fire in the black spruce forest, probably in the 1990s.  (Photo by Tazlina DNR, to the Journal) 

May 16th, 2024

Black spruce trees have no other goal in their long, flammable, stunted, twisted lives than to catch fire and to burn. 

That's how they reproduce. Their resin-stuffed tangles of "witches' brooms" catch fire in the blaze, and spin high into the air, far across the countryside, until coming back to earth and planting scrappy new little black spruce trees  somewhere else. Each witches' broom is like a ready-made rocket-powered fire starter kit. 

The Copper Valley is full of black spruce. This makes the Copper Valley (which hasn't had a really big forest fire since the Wilson Camp Lightning Fire of 1981) especially vulnerable. 

The Wilson Camp fire was pretty bad. We've been lucky, so far. But it's another year. 


Canada And Alaska Have Very Similar Fire Problems 

It's once again already fire season in the northland. A huge forest fire in Canada has shown that even though it's still spring, we may be in for a wild ride this summer. 

Reports from Alberta, where much of Canada's oil is produced, say that 6,000 people have been evacuated from Fort McMurray. The 52,000 acre fire doubled quickly in size, and began bearing down on the town on Wednesday. 

(Google Maps) 

Northern wildfires tend to repeat themselves, and come back, often years later, to the same place. In 2016, 2,400 homes in Fort McMurray and 80,000 people were evacuated at that time. 

There's another fire in Canada right now – the Parker Lake Fire near Fort Nelson,  British Columbia – which is also burning out of control. On May 15th, that fire covered around 50 square miles, and was causing diversions of vehicles on the Alaska Highway. Part of the Alaska Highway was closed near Mile 375. 

(Google Maps) 


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