2nd Annual FireSmart Day on Anarchist Mountain
Sunday, July 13th
Come and join us for the 2nd annual FireSmart Day being held at the Summit Centre from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm on Sunday, July 13th.
Theme this year will be landscaping. A local landscaper will be present to show what he has done in the area and which plants support the FireSmart initiative. FireSmart Committee members and Emergency Notification & Communication Team members will be there to support all of your inquiries.
On that note, please read this special note from Irvin. Our BBQ this afternoon commemorates the 11th anniversary of the fire on Anarchist Mountain. Irvin has done a fantastic job of documenting the experience.
I’m sure you’ll agree that we are all very fortunate to have so many volunteers working to keep us safe from fire. Our Fire Department is wonderful, but we all need to learn how to protect ourselves and property. Please consider attending the session tomorrow and also requesting a FireSmart assessment. Click HERE for more information on FireSmart and learn how to request a free assessment.
July 16th – the Anarchist Mountain fire
A reflection by Irvin Redekopp
In the summer of 2002 I was talking to my neighbour, Joe Simoes, about some of the scorched logs I found near our property line, obviously from a previous wildfire from some time ago. I remember clearly him saying, “It’s not IF we will get another fire through this area, but WHEN.” Little did I know that the WHEN happened the following summer. In the summer of 2002, a wildfire in Oroville was threatening to cross the border, and I was visited by a young man from the Forestry who stated that, if the fire comes over that mountain – he was pointing to the small mountain between Long Joe Road and Oroville – then we would be directly in the path of the fire. Luckily that did not happen, but he also recommended at the time to trim all the branches up 10-15 feet on the trees between Long Joe Road and our house. I did that.
On July 16th, it will be 11 years since the residents of this mountain experienced a raging wildfire none of us will forget. Our fire on Anarchist Mountain was the first that year, followed by the horrific fires of Barriere and Kelowna. Being from the Fraser Valley, I was very naive as to the power and ferocity of a wildfire when the conditions are what we firefighters call the 30/30 Cross – the condition where the Relative Humidity drops below 30% and temperature rises above 30 degrees Celsius. When the 30/30 occurs, anything can happen (e.g. firestorms, fire winds, etc.) It could even cause a thunderstorm that gives off wind in all directions, Wind has the most affect on fire behaviour, and we had wind on this day as well (For every 13-16 km/h (10 mph), the rate of fire spread doubles). The local paper reported that our fire, at its height, was travelling over 60 metres per minute.
The intensity of heat is phenomenal. A wildfire going through 1 foot of grass generates 600-800 degrees F (315-426 Celsius), so think of the heat from a 60 foot tree. For every foot of flame length, you have to be 4 feet away in order to remain safe (e.g. a flame length of 8-9 feet causes danger to people within 30 feet of the fire.)
The fire started just below the lookout, the result of an RV trailer or fifth wheel’s brakes overheating and sparks igniting the grass on that corner shown by the arrow on the map. When I came up the mountain and passed the spot, the fire was only the size of a football field, but in the next half hour, it grew exponentially and we were evacuating. Attached are some pictures (I think taken by the Newtons) that give a good idea of what was happening.
A little history…
In early 2003 a local developer, Adrian Erickson, purchased a firetruck and offered to donate it toward the establishment of a fire department. At the beginning of July of that year, before our Anarchist Mountain wildfire and with the help of the Minister of Forests & Fire Prevention, the firetruck was equipped with the minimal necessary equipment. On July 16th, the firetruck and volunteers were instrumental in saving several residences as they worked alongside the Forestry and other volunteer fire departments.
Our house was right in the middle of it. We feel very fortunate. The Forestry bombers dropped two complete loads of fire retardant on our house, so red became our favourite colour. Others were not so fortunate. It was later reported that three houses were completely destroyed and others received varying amounts of damage to buildings, equipment, vehicles (including RV’s), land, etc.
In August, following the fire, a group of residents, organized by Joe Simoes, came together at his place and volunteered to take a two-day intensive Forestry-sponsored course in Wildfire Fighting training. Included in the group were both men and women. Following this we began the formal organization of a volunteer fire fighting society and fire department for the protection and safety of the residents of Anarchist Mountain. Adrian Erickson donated three acres of land. The society’s six directors secured a line of credit and purchased a 40 x 60 metal building for the site, and with many volunteers and many weekends, built the main building on Grizzly Road.
In July 2004, the Anarchist Mountain Firefighters Society hosted the first community BBQ in commemoration of the 2003 fire, and this became an annual event. In 2009, I approached the Anarchist Mountain Community Society regarding this event, and we worked hard to put together a Mountain BBQ and dance. Since then the AMCS has taken over and expanded the event (which this year is on Saturday, July 12th). It continues to be hosted during the same time period as a reminder of the 2003 fire.
In 2005, the residents passed a referendum to bring the fire department under the auspices of the RDOS, and thus here we are today – a great fire department built upon the support of the community and the hard work of many volunteers. In 2007, Adrian Erickson donated a new Rosenbaurer Custom 4 x 4 Pumper firetruck, valued at $450,000. This replaced our aging primary firetruck and we have been growing ever since.
With the summer upon us and the very hot weather we have been experiencing, once again the fire danger is high. The wildfire caused by the recent collision of those semi-trailer trucks west of Osoyoos , and the present fire now under control in Naramata, serve as evidence of how dry the area has become.
What has changed since 2003? We are now a FireSmart community; we are much more aware of how fires are fueled by how we keep our yards and surrounding areas; and, most importantly, we now have a fire department to help battle any fires. As to one example of the area surrounding your house and buildings, with the 2003 fire, not one of the trees I trimmed “candled”. They are still black for the bottom ten feet, but none of them burned. The young man from the Forestry said by doing the trimming, it would help to keep any wildfire at the grass level and help prevent it from going up into the trees. The Forestry recommendation was a good one and greatly appreciated.
I hope you don’t mind my ramblings, but with the temperatures forecast to be in the 30’s for the next seven days, I’m sure the fire danger will increase significantly.
So as we reflect upon the 11th anniversary of our wildfire, have a wonderful and safe summer.
Receiving our new firetruck …