Editorial: Living on the edge of disaster

You really don’t need a campfire

Some people, it seems, never learn.

News came this week of camper receiving a ticket for an open fire in the North Okanagan. With wildfires still blazing all around B.C., this bright spark decided not only to have a campfire, but to go to sleep with it still burning.

He claims not to have known about the ongoing fire ban, but that doesn’t really matter. Anyone should have more common sense than to start a fire in tinder-dry conditions without a water source close at hand and, especially, than to leave it untended.

What this guy saw as a pleasant fire to light his evening could have turned into a disaster in the space of a few minutes, putting more forests, homes and people at risk.

The ease with which this could have become another disaster points out how close to the edge we all live. Though Penticton has been lucky so far — knock wood — few areas escaped unscathed from the flooding and the fires that followed so quickly people didn’t even have time to heave a sigh of relief.

And when you look at the damage Hurricane Harvey did in Texas, it is truly frightening how fast conditions can turn from normal to disaster.

There isn’t much that can be done for a Hurricane Harvey level disaster. Even with the flooding up and down the valley, there was no stopping the water. All we could do was sandbag and hope, and in many areas, that wasn’t enough.

But when it comes to forest fires, we can be proactive. There may not be much that can be done about lightning and other natural causes for fires, but we can smarten up — stop throwing cigarettes out of cars and lighting campfires that serve no useful purpose.

It’s a message that everyone should have received by now, but it seems that some people just won’t listen.