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Alberta fires – highly irregular

There are significant warnings built into the facts of the Alberta fires.
Alberta forest fire
The same situation may well be coming your way.

First and foremost, this is not fire season.

Snow and rains of October / November always end the wildland fire season. It does not resume until July, at the earliest. In between, vegetation is too moist and air too cool to sustain significant forest fire activity.

International, and in particular North American forestry practices create and maintain comfortable barriers between forest and urban land enabling them to insure that wildland fires cannot threaten significant property damage. Planning, building, maintaining, and defending “the urban buffer zone” is the biggest priority for Canadian and USofA forestry agencies.

Something very unusual, unpredictable using standard models, is taking place with the Fort McMurray fire.

“…officials said they will be fighting the overall fire, expected to reach 300,000 hectares in size by day’s end Saturday, for months to come even if they make gains that allow the return of more than 80,000 residents to the northern Alberta city…”

In this case, continuous streams of private vehicles poured out of Fort McMurray with flames licking their flanks. Breakdowns and running out of fuel were far more dangerous than officials normally cut it.

Imagine you are in this traffic jam. Imagine you are wishing, hoping, praying that fire doesn’t engulf your car before you get away.

Note the flame colors. These is not plain wood fires. they have the color and intensity of burning metal, like aluminum. It is probably worth watching more than once to fully appreciate all the details. Again, imagine that is you urgently evacuating your home. It could easily be.

The retreat government officials initially evacuated people to had its own emergency evacuation.

“…as many as 25,000 people may be airlifted from camps north of the embattled area…”

Have you ever heard of a fire been so powerful and unpredictable that government airlifted twenty five thousand people out of the path?

Watch the video of the traffic jam driving through the fire. This is not how these agencies do their work. The power and speed of this fire is dramatically, frighteningly unusual.

Large bureaucracies, be they governmental or corporate, almost never adapt to changing situations. You had better be doing some thinking, and adjusting on your own.

What is changed?
Why is this fire different?
What does it say about our coming fire season?

I will start with my personal observation, and that of others who share my sense of color shading and are attuned to nature’s rhythms. The green of our trees is not normal. The green of our forest is pale. The trees look dry, as if we are at the tail end of a drought.

The trees are dry.


May 8th.

That “poster child safety zone” that responsible homeowners develop and maintain will not be adequate this year.

When the historically precedenting fire approaches your home and your family, you had better have far exceeded expectations.

Normal best practices will not suffice when abnormal threats come your way.

Please take extraordinary precautions for this year. Please create a double- or triple-wide buffer zone.

You may even want to invest in some Pyreflect or Fiberflect or other reflective protection for covering flammable materials that cannot be easily moved out of areas that would be threatened by spotting and crowning fires in your neighborhood.

While the firefighters always seem to find this stuff for things they want to protect in normal fire seasons, odds are slim they will be able to put protective wrap around everything you might wish to preserve.

Going beyond WHAT IS into the why could distract from the message I want to share here.

Please Be Prepared.


But if you are wondering Who, Why, and/or How, you might sally on down the lanes below.

tree die-off

the aluminization of our soils

aluminum oxide particles