Nathan’s Notes: Making a fire zone home

Moving away from home and into Revelstoke definitely seemed more intimidating ahead of time than what it turned out to be.

Other than the change of scenery and lack of a directly accessible Wal-Mart, I’ve found Revelstoke offers many of the same comforts of Calgary-living.

However, over the past few weeks I’ve struggled at coming to grasp with living in a region where smokey-skies and water-bombers have become the norm.

Back in Calgary, people look forward to the charm of a thuderstorm – watching the flashes of lightning in the distance from a safe garage or out a back window can seem comforting and exciting.

In my time here, however, my feeling towards the storms has changed to a perspective of worry and fear.

Throughout the Revelstoke area last week, BC Wildfire Service reported over 20 small wildfires, though “small” is an extremely relative term in that statement.

Fires that blaze at any size worth noting, in my opinion, warrant cause for concern.

And while often times my anxiety as a naive city kid may be acting up in these cases, the idea of living somewhere where massive infernos are a fact of life still feels completely surreal to me.

Often times it’s the powerlessness feeling that most bothers me.

As wildfires spark and spread throughout the province, I’ve often been left to wonder how I should be reacting. While being aware is one thing, I still feel powerless in my ability to actually control what might happen to me if the fire starts to spread my way.

We’ve had small disasters in the past back home. The floods in Calgary during the summer of 2013 made everyone re-evaluate how mother nature could take a toll, though they barely touched my area of the city.

The Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016 also brought the concept of natural disaster a little closer to home.

However, actually living within the vacinity of fires and watching smoke rise from the endless trees around the city has left me to feel pretty small and powerless in comparison to what the world is capable of.

Sure, there’s adjustments that can be made as responsible residents in the environment — watch where you flick a cigarette butt and make sure you’re following fire-bans — but even then, I can only do so much on a personal level and hope that others do the same.

Preparations for this fire season seemed more advanced, and at least in the region, the lack of spreading fires has left me to believe prescribed burns and other preparations have done what they were supposed to.

Even so, the new threat of fire spread has left me to feel some anxiety I’m not used to. It seems few happy-endings follow tales of close encounters with forest fires.

Perhaps the possible danger of disaster comes with the territory of living in an area that’s a little more wild than I’m used to, and likely given more time through multiple fire seasons to adjust, the surreal aspect of the smoke-filled skies would start to fade.

However, as my time in Revelstoke starts to near its end, a valuable memory I’ll bring with me home to Calgary is the powerless feeling while watching lightning strike and ignite forest ranges just a short trip from my back window.