“Mommy, our house is broken,” you can hear the five-year-old cry through tears as the family returns to find smoke and ruins where their home used to be. (See the following picture)
Eighteen homes were destroyed in this year’s monster fire near High Level. The towns of High Level and La Crete plus surrounding communities were in grave risk, requiring multiple emergency evacuations.
Millions of animals and birds were maimed, destroyed or displaced from a burned forest six times the size of urban Edmonton.
And, similar to the Fort Mac fire, billions of dollars of timber went up in smoke, taking with it dreams and livelihoods of Albertans.
This is to say nothing of the 9-14 billion dollars of insurable losses in the 2016 Ft. Mac monster fire, or losses in the 2011 Slave Lake monster fire.
Yet, what is far more distressing than all of these losses, is the strong evidence that these monster fires were avoidable!
Across the province, people are respectfully asking questions about our fire fighting machine.
· Why did this small fire turn into a monster fire after being held four days?
· Why was equipment released from the initial fire before the fire blew up?
· Why were there insufficient ground crews available on the initial fire and throughout much of the fire?
· Why for years, have there been so many reports of crazy waste and disorganization coming through from those working on the fires? For example, why are people and equipment routinely being productive for 7 hours and being paid full rate for 12 hours?
· Why were fireguards that dozers cut, left to be unprotected by ground crews over, and over and over, guaranteeing the fireguards to fail?
· Are there systemic problems--common denominators across these monster fires?
· What is preventing people who are just in it for the money, from prolonging a fire or starting side fires?
· How much 'fire farming' has crept into fire fighting? (The difference between fire fighting and fire farming is the will to extinguish the fire vs. the will to make more money off it. Example: One contractor this summer exclaimed in dismay rather than relief, "This F*^#ing rain is going to put out our fire!")
· Are bad apples allowed to stay in the system?
· Is ego attached to fighting a bigger fire for some people?
· Is next year’s budget being justified by this year’s bigger fire?
· Is the word ‘safety’ being used to get in the way of common sense and productivity?
· How can the taxpaying public know what is really going on behind the bush, the barricades, and the no-fly zones?
· What real practical accountability does our provincial fire machine have to the public?
· Is the taxpaying public still in control of its civil servants or is the tail wagging the dog?
· Is ego coming in the way of a cooperative team spirit among key players such as municipal vs. wildland vs. structural vs. locals?
· Why is it often reported by contractors that, “If I ran my business like they run this huge machine I’d be out of business in two days” ?
· Why is there such a hesitancy among the players to talk openly until they can do so anonymously?
· Why in so many of the crews, is there so little urgency to put out fires?
· Why is there a serious lack of cooperation with property owners who have a vested interest in helping to protect their property?
· Why are we fighting wildfires primarily during the hottest period of the day when the least effect can be accomplished? This wasn’t always the case.
· Is there a false ideology floating around that condones the burning of our forests?
· How many helicopter-ignited “controlled" burns went out of control, crossing fire guards this summer compared to hand-lit controlled burns?
It’s time to separate fact from fiction, truth from rumors. It’s time to look deeper--well past the glib of government-funded inspections that cost a million dollars and maintain status quo.It’s time to get sensitive info that government investigations don’t get…info from first-hand eyewitnesses who are promised anonymity if they talk.
Already, nearly 100 anonymous interviews have been recorded...
people from Fort Mac, Slave Lake, Manning, High Level, Fort Vermilion, Paddle Prairie, La Crete, Edmonton, etc. Much has been learned. Many of the players are very disturbed at what really goes on and they want it fixed.
————————————— HONOUR WHERE HONOUR IS DUE
Alberta has many skillful, diligent firefighters who do their best, who risk their lives, who work hard to protect us. Thanks, guys and gals. Keep up the good work. You have worked hard on these monster fires and on many, many smaller fires. Thanks for protecting us, our families and our province’s valuable resources. Please come forward with your first-hand information and help us bring the necessary improvements you want. All it takes for evil to prosper is for good people to say nothing.
And Now, Improvements Where Improvements are Due!
There are systemic problems that need to be fixed. Had they been fixed last time, we wouldn’t be here again this time. Alberta can’t afford another monster fire.
Already about 400 hours of interviews and data collection have gone into this investigation without pay! Now’s your chance to help.
Please help fund this NON-GOVERNMENT investigative report and anonymously supply us with your eye-witness account, pictures, and videos. The money will be used to:
1) complete the investigative interviews and data collection phase
2) produce a clear video presentation of the matter for the public
3) produce a detailed written report that will inform the public and help equip the province to make the necessary changes
NOTE: 10% of all donations will go to the Herman Peters family shown above. They are a family of nine with a baby born just days after the fire, the only family from the eighteen burned houses who have not received any government assistance as yet.
*To make your gift anonymously, just check the box "Hide Name"
*To contact Lyndell Enns anonymously, click the Contact button
Lyndell Enns is author of the book, Today's Titanic. He has worked Internationally as an avionics engineer, and has served as Director of Communications for Alpha Canada. He grew up in Alberta where he develops land in the summertime, and he lives in Abbotsford, BC with his wife and family the rest of the year.