Fort McMurray On Fire
Control Alt Delete Climate Change, UPDATE*** ****
******FORT MCMURRAY ON FIRE***
First off I am safe, and most of the pictures are not mine, I had both hands on the wheel when driving through the smoke and flames at 4AM. At times I did see what was caught in the images…
Yesterday I was evacuated to the North. However what people don’t understand is there is a bridge called “the bridge to nowhere.” It is called that for a reason, you can only go up… and eventually… Nowhere. With a colleague of mine, we had our trucks packed and a backpack just in case. The idea was if we were to get evacuated any further North, Him and I would take our chances at the river. Pretty crappy knowing if you go further north you’d be in the middle of the forest that is burning. These are what they call the 30 30 30 rule for forest fires and what make them burn like a perfect storm.
It is hotter than 30 degrees Celsius. Yesterday it was 32 and today is supposed to continue
The winds are blowing more than 30 Km per hour. Yesterday it was gusting around 40
And the relative humidity is below 30, yesterday was only 12.
That’s why it is so dangerous to be in the Northern part of Alberta right now. I hear now that most of Alberta is in a Fire Ban at the moment due to the extreme conditions.
At about 3:30am my phone rang and it was my friend saying the highway is opened up, you can head south down through Fort McMurray. Seeing an opportunity to head home I and a friend took our chances. It was pretty clear sailing heading south on High way 63 form the Bridge to Nowhere, however on the other side of the highway you could see many stopped vehicles, most likely ran out of gas trying to get out of town. As we approached the city limits the smoke was becoming really dark, needed to drive with hazards on and slowly. Everything was lit up like you were in a snow globe with an orange luminescent light that would flicker between red and orange and dark. Smelled like you been partying all night by the camp fire, however this was no party. As we crossed the bridge in town heading closer to the South end of town that’s where you could see the most chaos. Cars stuck in the ditches (looked like they tried turning around in the traffic jams earlier, some getting stuck and hung up on either meridians or soft ditches. “Must have been crazy to be to be stuck in the flames in this part of town,” I thought to myself. To the West of the highway it was still burning in many sections, to my surprise to the East most of the buildings still looked fine. Like the Tim Horton’s and towards the mall/casino. I was relieved to see that the exit to the hospital looked pretty unscathed, to me this is one of the most important things the city needs to be able to rebuild, the hospital. That also means the Walmart and Canadian tire area should be ok. We had to turn off to see my friend’s uncles place, when we did it wasn’t good. His home was taken by Mother Nature. Just a few portions that looked like they used to be walls, and a roof over head, now, nothing at all just ashes and tears. Not much we could do but get back on the road and head south. While heading back to the highway I couldn’t help but see what looked like a dog or a fox who had lost its life in the events that had taken place. I know there will be many more animals who weren’t able to flee the flames as they swept through the surrounding forests. When we got back on the highway and continued south you could see the burning still happening in the trailer park, all lost, nothing left at all. Further south yet there was a yard of big rigs still flaming. Smoke was still heavy and nose was running by this point, even had a bit of water in my eyes. As we got further south you could see even more stranded cars that must have tried to drive through the ditch in hopes to flee the madness, many with not enough gas in the tank, or just not enough clearance to make the obstacles in the ditches. Kept driving for a few more Kms and more and more cars on the sides of the road… abandoned.
After a while when we finally broke out of the smoke it was still dark, but the sun was just coming up over the smoke behind us. Pretty crazy to see hundreds of vehicles form that point on as we headed south on 63, So many people sleeping in the vehicles on the side of the road not knowing if they will have a home to go back too. My hearts and prayers are with all of these people at this time. I think it hit me the worst when I was many Kms out of town and I drove past a camper that was filled to nuts with all of the family belongings, unfortunately the vehicle had rolled over and was on both sides of the high way, these family things strewn everywhere. Someone had the time to get out, packed what they could, and in the commotion of everything, or was too tired and managed to roll the unit with everything in it. So terrible to see. Don’t worry, Alberta is a great place to live one of the best dam places in the world. They will get help, you can count on it.
It took a long time to get the end of highway 63 due to the fact it goes back to one lane. It was at this time, going at a snail’s pace that I had time to reflect. Couldn’t imagine if most of the highway wasn’t twinned. One highway in and only one out. If this was only one way, I’m positive I would have seen many more accidents, as people decide to live on the edge and take to the ditches in the craziness.
I couldn’t help but see people who were either driving beside me or who were resting on the side of the road stare at my truck “CONTROL ALT DELETE CLIMATE CHANGE.” Not too sure the thoughts on these people’s minds when they saw me come out with ashes on the truck. Some I could see would shrug their shoulders and others would nod. Not too sure if either of them meant “what could we do?” or “what are you supposed to do?” Not too sure if they were in disgust at what had happened or if they felt they are at the whims of Mother Nature. We had a winter with so little precipitation, as far a snow it was the least I have personally ever seen in a season. Everything is so dry, something like this was bound to happen. In the picture you can see I parked near a bridge were you can see a dried up riverbed in the background. It’s going to be a long summer, until the rains come. So many wild fires burn down the forests and don’t really come into city limits. How long could we be so lucky? It wasn’t that long ago that Slave Lake another Northern City had Mother Nature’s wild fires knocking at their front doors. Some 300 + homes were destroyed and I heard it said that it took over 700 million to build it back. I am positive that Fort McMurray will rebuild, they are a city of hard working Albertans who have been working 12 hours or more a day in the oil sands. The average age of the people in the city is 31. Many with new families, and who have called this home for many years. I heard a story while stuck in traffic on the radio of one guy who lost the house he was born and raised in, the first home he had ever lived in after he moved out and the home he had just completed. Pretty sad to hear he lost every house he had ever lived in.
Took me 10 hours to get home, a drive which usually takes 5. Pretty glad I took the window, I hear the highway is blocked again.
Not too sure how fitting this is at a time of tragedy… but I guess no time like the present.
I have been working on another IDEA… It is actually going to be submission into a contest called the Carbon X-Prize. This is a contest that is challenging innovators of our time to think of a way to capture or harness the CO2 being emitted directly from the stacks from the refineries. The idea is to mitigate the emissions and to turn the CO2 into something valuable. I just want to say, that my father and I are on to something big. I can’t say at this time what it is, just know that, what we have come up with is revolutionary and should it be put in place would change the oil sands forever.
It is my hopes that we can do something to make a change, a change to a stable future. Were we can be happy knowing that the sun will rise again and our children and their children’s children will have a place to call home and not some chaotic mess we leave them with.
Once again, my heart, prayers and wishes go out to all the people sitting on the side of the road watching their city burn, all the rescue people who have been sent to help, and to all the critters of the forest who have to re locate.
Something I can say is, I personally am trying to do everything I can in this lifetime to make a difference. The picture that touched me the most is the one with the sun poking out. The suns going to shine again. Which usually is a good thing, however… at this time, I hope just a little cooler…
We will be ok, I promise. Just need some rest now….
Please check on my proposal and crowd funding idea in the next few months.
Control Alt Delete Climate Change