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B.C. fires hit close to home for Albertans

Posted on July 19, 2017 by Taber Times

With wildfires raging across the interior of British Columbia in recent days, more than 39,000 residents have been evacuated and many are inundating emergency shelters and centers just outside the grasp of multiple fires.

Damages from the fires still burning out of control in regions of B.C.’s interior are still only being roughly calculated, but right now it would be hard to believe the costs will not run into nine or even 10 figures.

Heavy smoke from the region has now touched most areas of Alberta, and a health advisory has been issued urging citizens to limit their time outdoors and avoid prolonged strenuous physical activity in smoke-plagued environments.

On the ground in the fire-stricken province, police and firefighters from across Alberta have been pouring into the crisis zones to lend assistance with evacuations and other activities, while firefighters battle blazes that have escalated to seemingly-insurmountable proportions in a matter of hours and days.

It’s a scenario that many Albertans will find familiar given the devastating damage to the city of Fort McMurray that was incurred due to wildfire in 2016, which swept through the community prompting the evacuation of 88,000 people, extensive damage and the destruction of more than 2,400 homes and buildings. To date, it was the costliest disaster in Canadian history.

Similar scenes were witnessed in 2011 in Slave Lake, which was also subjected to a conflagration which destroyed roughly one-third of the town of 7,000.

Both disasters saw an outpouring of support from across the province and the nation, and displaced and non-displaced Albertans alike were heartily grateful for the dollars that rolled in from households everywhere, as well as the support of disaster relief organizations such as the Canadian Red Cross, among many others.

While we progress in vigilence through our own 2017 wildfire season — which thankfully has so far left the province relatively unscathed to the degree witnessed currently in B.C. — the same cannot be said of our provincial brethren to the west.

While our two provinces appear ready to grapple over tendentious issues like pipelines and varying approaches to climate change, and inter-provincial relations have hit a definite low point, it’s important to remember that no matter what our politics, we’re all the same people in this great nation that spans a continent.

When it comes to opening our hearts and our wallets to assist our neighbours in their time of need, bitter political infighting should be the furthest thing from all of our minds. Putting our strongly-held beliefs and our opinions to rest while we sympathize with the terrible losses being felt by citizens of B.C. should be the most natural conclusion for any Albertan.

After all, we all know first hand the pain and loss that wildfire has inflicted on our own province over the past decade.

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