EDITORIAL: Fire remains a burning concern

However big or small the number of fires caused by humans is, it’s still too large.

Sometime in the coming weeks we are going to be publishing a news story about the number of fires burning in the province and how many of them were caused by humans.

Sadly, it’s an annual ritual. But however big or small the number of fires caused by humans is, it’s still too large.

Last year was one of the worst fire seasons the South Okanagan has seen since the Garnet Fire in 1994. And still, we didn’t see the worst of it. The wildfire in Rock Creek destroyed more than 4,000 hectares of forest, 30  homes and 15 other buildings. The 2015 wildfire season was the largest in Washington State history with more than a million acres burnt,  including a massive complex just south of the border, which claimed the lives of two firefighters.

The fire season has already started for this year with blazes in Quesnel, Cawston and even a grass fire here at home in Penticton.

No one wants to see a repeat of last year’s fire season. It’s too early yet to say whether or not we’re going to be in the same drought conditions but given our climate, fire is always a clear and present danger.

There isn’t much that can be done about fires started by lightning and other natural causes, but there is no reason for any fire to be traced back to a human cause.

A cigarette casually thrown out a window, a campfire not extinguished properly, playing with matches; all these activities and more can lead to untold devastation, putting not only the forests at risk, but property and lives, both civilians and the brave firefighters putting themselves in harm’s way to fight the fires.

Hopefully, the images of last year’s fires and the devastation caused by them are still seared into everyone’s memory. Think of that before you do something that could lead to a tragic repeat of history.