OPINION: Wildfires in spring — the new normal

We’ve experienced something unprecedented this year in Squamish.

A wildfire has already broken out — and it’s not even close to summer.

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On April 1, a wildfire was sparked in the Upper Squamish Valley.

In the first couple of days, it grew to 68 hectares.

As of writing this one week later on April 8, the fire is under control, yet still burning at the same size.

Thankfully, rain has helped contain the flames, but by no means has it been the silver bullet to stop the fire.

Unfortunately, it would appear as if this may be the new normal.

As a result, we here in Squamish need to be more vigilant than ever.

While it’s easy to immediately point blame at the reported source of the fire — a homeowner who was believed to be burning slash in the yard — it should be noted that it’s likely nobody would’ve had their guard up at this time of year.

While we shouldn’t pile onto this person, it should definitely be a teaching moment.

With wildfires continually reaching record-breaking levels in recent years, we can no longer afford to ever let ourselves be complacent with respect to fire safety.

Just about every official that I’ve spoken to has stressed the importance of using the FireSmart program to get prepared for the upcoming fire season.

If you haven’t already, I’d recommend having a look at firesmartbc.ca.

It should also be noted that we all have to take extra responsibility in informing the many tourists and visitors who come to the area to mindful of fire risks.

Yes, it’s a pain. Yes, we shouldn’t have to. But the consequences have simply become too great to risk any kind of slip-up.

Having an eerie orange, post-apocalyptic sun peek out from skies darkened with wildfire smoke shouldn’t be something we just get used to.

But here we are.

Finally, we should take into account the true cause of all this mess.

No, I’m not talking about careless behaviour, though that is a part of it.

I’m saying that if you didn’t think climate change is having very real consequences on the world in our lifetimes, it’s time to re-evaluate that assumption.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report noted that major negative effects of climate change could be happening in as little as 12 years. It’s time we wake up and smelled the smoke.

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