Huge crowds lined Highway 97 and adjacent roads Monday to watch the giant plume of smoke hanging over the Greater Vernon landfill Monday.
It was an impressive sight as air tankers, helicopters and ground crews ensured the wind-fed blaze didn’t evolve into something larger, particularly given that this is the 10th anniversary of the Kelowna firestorm.
But hopefully residents took home more than just the thrill of the action.
“Cooler temperatures and cloudier conditions have not reduced the fire danger rating which remains high across the region,” said Michaela Swan, Wildfire Management Branch communications officer.
The grasslands are tinder-dry and something as seemingly innocuous as a spark from an all-terrain vehicle or a lawn mower can ignite a blaze. The same can also be said for a cigarette butt carelessly tossed aside.
Just recently, the Wildfire Management Branch expressed concern that some people are still igniting campfires despite there being a complete ban on provincial lands as well as in all municipalities and the regional district. Campfires may be a tradition once the sun goes down and the night turns cool, but they can also cause significant damage if not extinguished properly.
It is incumbent on all of us — homeowners, recreationalists, tourists and commercial/industrial operations — to work as a team just as multi-jurisdictional agencies did during Monday’s landfill fire.
Follow the rules and immediately report any fires.
It is only through co-operation and looking at the big picture that we can prevent disasters such as the one Kelowna is commemorating now.