Reflections on forest fires

By Eb's Adventure
Posted in News, on July 20, 2015

Many of us live on an urban row of grass moated homes. Fire is a threat we prepare against with smoke detectors and exit plans. Surrounded by thousands of people and a non-natural landscape, it’s easy to feel secure against such powerful forces of nature. Just call 911.

Listening to a forest fire is like having the gates of hell open in your face. The roaring is so emphatically powerful you feel the vibration of it through your heart.

forest fire smoke over Lac La Ronge Saskatchewan

Fire has always been bewitching to humankind; it’s nearly impossible not to stare into those mesmerizing flames on a dark night around the campfire. But the sight of a stand of jack pine exploding into a sudden inferno calls for a more profound response.

It seems strange that we are surprised by the extreme fire situation in Canada this year. We’ve been warned about the effects of climate change since we were in diapers. Fire is, after all, a natural part of the ecosystem. Climate change has – as predicted – created conditions that are favorable for fires. Longer dry spells. More lightning conducive conditions.

Forest fire aftermath Saskatchewan

We humans tend to like things constant. Change is ok as long as it is controlled, beneficial, and attractive. Being out of control is scary and undesirable. That a natural phenomenon can still so effectively disrupt human lives is a humbling thought. I like to think of it as a re-humanizing thought. We are animals, governed by the laws of nature. We are like children who want all the freedom in the world yet need the security of knowing there is someone more powerful than they are.

Mother nature may not be the loving parent, but she moves in mysterious ways. Ways that may preserve life more than we realize. Some boreal tree species need fire in order for their cones to open; they cannot reproduce without that extreme heat. After a forest fire clears an area, new species grow up – often more fire resistant ones, like forbs and deciduous trees. Landscapes and weather systems change, each affecting the other.

Let’s work with that.  

 

forest fire tree silhouette
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