I drove down the Slocan Valley yesterday to see my friend Jodi B (of Willow Leaf Studio) and spend the day printing fabric.
I'd forgotten until I got to Silverton that the road (the only road through this pass) had been closed for forest fire...what reminded me was the smell. If you've never been near a really big forest fire it's hard to describe - not just campfire on steroids, but bigger, greasier and dirtier smelling than that. And it doesn't go away...we seem to get used to smells pretty quickly and not notice them any more, but not this one...
It was about 6:30 or 7 am by the time I got anywhere near the fire site, and there was no other traffic around. The photo at left shows the first big piece of the burn visible from the road. And for comparison sake, our valley was completely clear blue sky yesterday - the sky here was completely obscured by the smoke. This one is a big fire. Around 3000 Hectares at last count.
Once I was stopped waiting for the pilot car I took the second picture. You can see how the whole slope is obliterated here. While I was waiting to be taken through the Flagperson told me that the geo-technical crews were up there testing the stability of the slope. There are no trees and no soil left, so nothing really there to hold all those rocks up. While we were driving through the burn area (I didn't take pictures, I was by myself in the car) it was easy to see big gouges in the road surface where large rocks had fallen. Many were still in the ditches along the sides of the road where they had been pushed to allow traffic to pass.
The ride home allowed me a better view of the burn area, but I didn't take photos. I think I must have come through during shift change, as several trucks full of firefighters were leaving the area as we were going through. The helicopters were going over us as we were driving through behind the pilot car, with their big bags full of lake water to dump on the areas that are still burning.
It makes me very grateful that we don't have any fires directly in our valley this year, but makes my heart go out to all of those who have been grappling with this one and ones like it this summer.