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STAHN: The view from up here

August 01, 2014 - 6:28 AM

You may think I’m wrong to admit this, but I am actually really excited about this fire season. I have been since murmurs of another active season began.

The opportunity to see our guys and gals in action, putting themselves in harms way to save our homes, the air tankers and helicopters constantly buzzing above: It’s exciting to see.

It is devastating to those who lose property, especially their homes filled with memories, and I feel for them, I really do. But there is something about the thrill of the chase, getting the best pictures, the best stories, that speaks to me on a level I can’t really explain.

So when I was offered the opportunity to go up in a helicopter to get a look at the damage wrought by the Smith Creek wildfire in West Kelowna last week I was more than a little excited. I am still, nearly a week later, grinning from ear to ear like a little kid sitting in front of a stack of neatly wrapped presents at Christmas.

I’d be lying if I said the excitement has worn off, but the view from the air did offer some disquieting moments.

From the air you realize just how close the firefighters working the black char of the hills are to the homes the blaze could’ve easily destroyed.

You see the cars driving in and out, while just on the other side of the fence, tankers are filling up portable bladders so hot spots can be extinguished.

From the air you realize just how close the 260 hectare blaze came to those homes — about 1,120 homes were evacuated — but you also realize just how small the fire really is compared to the amount of fuel still sitting out there, waiting to burn.

The view from the helicopter is something that will stick with me, not just because of the exhilaration, but because it made me realize how much worse this fire could have been if not for the quick work of our fire crews.

It also made me realize how much damage a single person can cause — this fire is just one of the many human-caused ones burning in our fire zone this season.

To contact a reporter, email Jennifer Stahn at or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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