Greetings from British Columbia. There’s nothing like a couple of weeks battling fires in the wilderness to appreciate the comforts of civilisation.
Our first 14-day rotation in British Columbia ended on Wednesday morning NZ time and we’re now taking the opportunity to rest up in the very comfortable hotels our hosts have put us in, do some much-needed washing and blast out a few tunes. Strangely the feedback on our karaoke skills has not matched the feedback about our firefighting.
The Canadians love our work ethos and good humour; they’re not as complimentary about our singing.
By the time you read this we’ll be heading out to see what awaits us on our second rotation. The first stint featured a lot of mopping up as we brought uncontrolled fires under control. However, that could change if the weather changes as forecast.
The smoke from the more than 500 fires burning in BC has been keeping relative humidity up and temperatures down. But if the skies clear and the winds come up relative humidity will drop and we’ll get an increase in fire behaviour.
In that case we anticipate a shift from mopping up operations, where we’ve had considerable success, to initial attack on new fires.
It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that the conditions here are tough and will get even tougher if temperatures increase, but we’re thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to develop our skills, work alongside BC’s terrific firefighters and contractors, and see otters, beavers, bears and porcupines in the wild.
We wouldn’t wish a repeat of these fires on anyone, but if Canada is hit again next year, a few of the team have already signaled their availability to come back.