B.C.’s devastating 2017 wildfire season revisited in new book

British Columbia Burning written by CBC journalist Bethany Lindsay

The story of Clinton store owner Jinwoo Kim was emblematic of how people came together during the Elephant Hill wildfire last summer that threatened to destroy his community.

Kim was ready to leave with his family, but then his mind turned to all the friends and neighbours he’s known all his life.

Kim and his brother Sang spoke with the local RCMP and firefighters, and all agreed that he would be best to keep his gas station and store open as long as possible to assist the firefighting effort.

So Kim supplied the crews, while looking out for others who defied the order to evacuate Clinton.

Since no one was allowed to leave their homes, Kim delivered groceries and beer when he could get supplied.

“I grew up here so this is my hometown. I didn’t want this to be burnt down. This is my life right here. All my friends are here, all my friends’ houses are here,” he explained.

Kim’s story is one of many told in a new book about the summer of 2017 called British Columbia Burning: The worst wildfire season in B.C. history.

Written by Lower Mainland journalist Bethany Lindsay, the coffee table-style book relates a myriad of storylines involving people affected by the wildfires, which ignited more than 1.2 million hectares and forced the evacuation of more than 65,000 people, accompanied by a hundreds of photo images.

Bethany Lindsay

Lindsay said the 106-page literary effort, her first book, posed a different challenge compared to writing for the Vancouver Sun, which she did for five years up until 2017, or her current role working the website desk for CBC.

She thought the 2017 wildlife season offered the potential to be told in a book, so she was keen to pursue the idea when it was presented to her by MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc. in Nova Scotia.

“I got the contract to do it in September last year and my deadline was December 31. It was four straight months of doing interviews every day in my spare time and then writing and rewriting,” Lindsay said.

“There were definitely points where I thought, ‘Oh my God, is this ever going to be over,’ but I managed to get it finished by 8 p.m. on Dec. 31. I really hope the people who opened up their hearts to me and told me their stories will be happy with it.”

Lindsay feels the overriding takeaway from the 2017 wildfires is we live in a state of “new normal” where everything that used to be predictable no longer is.

“Now the wildfire season starts much earlier than it used to, lasts longer and the bad fires are capable of a lot more damage,” Lindsay said.

Inside page layout of British Columbia Burning is mixed with photos and text.

The challenge for governments, she feels, is to invest in forest fire fuel management initiatives to reduce the spiralling costs of fighting major fires.

“We need to do more controlled burning, and we need to talk with First Nations people about the historic significance behind those practices,” she said.

She noted the Filmon report produced in the aftermath of the 2013 Okanagan Mountain fire made a similar recommendation which was never embraced by the provincial government.

“These kind of measures are expensive, but place it in comparison to doing nothing and the huge cost of fighting these fires, which are a hugely expensive undertaking,” she said.

That report was written by former Manitoba premier Gary Filmon, who also wrote the foreword to Lindsay’s book.

“I was trying to think of someone who could write a foreward to the book and I thought about Gary Filmon. I had never met him so it was a bit of a longshot, but I just asked him and he said he’d be more than happy to do it.”

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Stoked on science: Resolve for your resolutions

Jade Harvey Guest columnist As we progress further into January and the… Continue reading

Super blood wolf moon fills Okanagan skies, to photographers’ delight

Photographers had a rare chance Sunday to capture a rare lunar eclipse

2019 Budget: Revelstoke city staff recommending a five per cent property tax increase

Additional options that would expand services total another six per cent

Revelstoke Secondary School enthralls the audience with Trap

With a twist ending that had audience members laughing, perhaps uncomfortably, the… Continue reading

Okanagan Military Tattoo returns

Performances July 28 and July 28

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

Man charged in 7-Eleven fire in Shuswap granted bail

Accused facing arson charges released with 23 conditions including a 7 p.m. curfew

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Most Read