Not really sure if it is summer already (we missed spring), or if this is still spring and more snow storms are on the way ;-(
At any rate, the first batch of large, slow mosquitoes are out, and the leaves are just starting to come out on the trees.
But one thing is sure – it IS the start of Fire Season!
In the past week I have visited a couple more fire lookouts in our area.
One of the lookouts is road accessible, after being opened with a cat, but I still needed 4wd to make it up the road on the muddy sections.
The next one is not road accessible, so we used a 212 helicopter to fly up the lookout observer, and his first batch of water and supplies. We worked on replacing damaged solar panels, and made sure all the lookout equipment was present and working properly.
Back over home – Shunda Fire Base
After the usual early season grass fires, the action has picked up quite a bit. One of the first fires was just 10km from the base, and fairly close to the tower visited in the last blog posting. It took a few days to get control of, then a more problematic one started near the town of Nordegg.
Being in difficult terrain including old logging slash, coupled with varied and changeable winds, it has been a challenge – making repeated attempts to escape containment. Since it was close to this base, it created a lot of air traffic that was constant all day long, with frequent helicopter line ups for fuel, and regular deliveries to avoid running low. Crews were also called in from more northerly locations where fire season has not yet arrived.
Bomber groups from tanker bases were constantly overhead, and water bombers were scooping water from nearby Abraham Lake to drop on the flames.
Around 12 different helicopters were my frequent visitors for a time.
The town has been under a 1 hour evacuation notice for several days now. Very strong, gusting winds blowing toward the community have drawn in county and provincial law enforcement officers to assist in any evacuation should it be necessary. Today, they almost outnumbered the residents. Structural fire fighters from neighbouring communities are also all around, with large water tanks stationed at key locations.
Smoke is blanketing the town, from the fire, about 2km beyond the ridge.
Meanwhile, Hailey is watching all the action from her vantage point on the end of the de-activated runway.
Stay tuned …