Friday, July 30, 2010

A Sanctuary

Yesterday morning, I woke up retching and coughing. It was 4 AM, just before Dawn.

The bedroom was filled with smoke from Forest Fires, presently burning about six or seven miles away from our house. And it was not the only one...there were Fires surrounding the entire area.

As I drove into Williams Lake to give a Reiki session, the entire city was shrouded in a misty gray-brown smoke from the tremendous amount of Fires, started by Lightning, that dotted the area. I could barely see the buildings. Breathing was difficult for me, but not nearly as difficult as it is for people who are struggling with respiratory problems already.

This morning, as I checked the national weather forecast on my home page on the computer, I see smoke will obscure the Skies for at least the next three days.

In the house, there is a fine film of ash covering everything...the counters, the furniture, even the keyboard of the computer has a gritty feel to it. And everything smells as if I have been sitting next to a smoky, wet campfire.

It has been mind-blowing...the heat, the smoke and a ferocious hot, it sears my face as I close the windows.

We have no air-conditioning, since it would only be in use for a couple of weeks of the year. It seemed a waste of money when we moved in, but oh! how I wish we had it now.

The Sun is a round, orange ball in the smoke laden Sky...there is so much smoke it is barely visible and I am able to look directly at it. There is the constant sound of aircraft...the whump, whump, whump of helicopter blades. I fight a feeling of the entire World shrouded in smoke? I can barely see the Trees not too far distant from me.

I notice Plants outside looking wilted and sad, barely hanging on. Their leaves have a fine coat of ash, making their life in my garden miserable. There has been no Rain of any significance for a long time. I water them a little, but cannot give them much...our well Water is a precious commodity in the Summer.

I hear stories of Animals on the move, some ending up under people's porches, trying to find an area without the eye-burning smoke. It makes me feel ill, all that smoke, it makes my stomach roil...I can only imagine how the wild Animals must feel. Where can they go to find relief?

Even as I watch a herd of Mule Deer move through the property, I notice the abundance of Bird life going on all around me. Birds that have been absent, going further North to their breeding habitat, and others, have returned. Some of their fledglings look very young, and I wonder if Fires have urged them back to us.

I watch two Birds on a limb beside the feeding the other, much younger one. I imagine their nest was destroyed, along with all the other Birds that are reappearing.

There is only a little relief in sight. Thunderstorms are in the weather forecast for the next three days; each one with the potential for many more Fires. But each may be accompanied by Rain, which will help the Firefighters presently working in such hot conditions.

My eyes are swollen and red; my chest feels tight and sore. I will close the windows in a short is the only way to cool the house down with the cool early morning breeze...but the smoky air is becoming unbearable. I will wear a dust mask today.

The whole province of BC, with the exception of three small areas, is under extreme Fire conditions. Fires are burning the Cariboo district alone, 39 Fires of note began yesterday. And that figure may be higher today.

I live in the middle of a deeply Forested area. I must admit that when I moved here, I had no knowledge or understanding of how dry the Cariboo Region is. Had I known, quite possibly I would not have bought this house, which has huge Interior Fir Trees surrounding it.

In any situation, I try and find the good. I'm hard pressed to find good in this one, unless it is strength and experience in an atmosphere where the air quality is deemed very poor.

And so far, we are safe. There is great thankfulness in that...I am not one of the people whose homes have either burned or will burn. I have not been evacuated...I do not have to deal with leaving my belongings behind. I made it through last year, which was only a little better regarding any moisture, than this year.

And I am so very grateful that the Air quality in my area is generally very fact, where I live, in higher is excellent. It has given Animals and  Birds a sanctuary.

Smoke has shown me how difficult air pollution really is and how easily it can lead to health problems. It gives me insight into some of the Hospice clients, who struggle to breathe.

I now know what that's like.


  1. My God, Marion, I hate that you're going through this! How horrible to be surrounded by fire, albeit not too close by. And the poor wildlife! Fires are one of the few disasters that we don't have here... I hope y'all get some rain or relief soon from the heat of the fires. Sending you hugs....Stay safe!

  2. We get so many fires in California that I can so relate to this. I try to tell myself that this is nature's way of renewing...

  3. Oh Marion, this sounds dreadful. Are you sure you are safe there? Fires are a good thing for forests, at least I have heard this and at least this one was started by nature herself, but it is not a good thing for people. I worry about all the animals too. Sending hugs and prayers your way, that this fire and the heat passes by quickly. xoxo

  4. oh my god marion, how can i not worry for you? i can't even compliment you on how vividly you've written this because i feel so helpless and sad for you and the birds and the animals and your garden and the trees and flowers.

    i hope this is short lived. it make me sad and worried in so many ways, please take care of yourself and those in your care. i know you will. breathing and water are two things that could never be overrated.

    love and prayers now and always

  5. Marion,

    Thank you, Marion. The fire nearest to me is not as smoky today. It was only 7 miles away;whenever a South Wind occurred we were covered with smoke.

    I WILL stay perfectly safe. I will have plenty of warning should I be required to evacuate.


    I've seen news reports on the fires in California. There's so much smoke going into the atmosphere...I worry about the pollution.

    I agree, it is Nature's way of renewing. We had so many pines killed by the pine beetle just standing there dead. It is perfect fodder for long-burning wildfires. It's when they become interface fires that the problems begin.


    Thank you, dear Annie. I hope it will be over quickly as well. But I fear as long as the land is this parched, and there is fuel and lightning, there will be more fires.

    But please don't the present moment, I am perfectly safe.

  6. kj,

    No, no, no, no worries when you're on holiday! Don't waste energies on something you can do nothing about. I appreciate your positive, loving thoughts though, but I guess Nature's way.

    I am so concerned for others who are in the direct line of smoke who have respiratory disease...this smoke is the worst I have ever experienced. So hot and so difficult to breathe...I am tired at the end of the day, at any rate, which usually lends itself to a good sleep!! And it is cooling down significantly at night for the last two nights, which helps immensely. Keeping the interior of the house cool is a great help.

    I have learned, since I moved here, how to really conserve Water, such a precious resource! And I am thankful we have enough for the garden...the lawn is parched, but it will come back.

    The Rains will come...and the Cariboo/Chilcotin will bloom once again.

    Have a happy, safe holiday, kj, I shall think of you dipping your toes in the Ocean on the other side of the continent!

  7. I remember fire season when I was in CA. You descibe the red sun perfectly and the layer of ash that covers everything. My clothes smelled smokey as did my house. And I cry for the animals running for safety and getting hit on the freeways. And people who have lost everything. I can't even imagine.

    I'm grateful for your safety too, Marion. I hope you, Graham, the dogs and the creatures that surround you will soon look at this as a distant memory.


  8. Studio lolo,

    Yesterday, I felt more optimistic, as the wind blew away much of the smoke, yet that same wind has now created more fires, more evacuations. And so today, the dogs woke me at 4:30 am and the house was once more filled with smoke.

    There are so MANY fires. Rain will be non-existent for the next few days according to the weather forecast. There are many hot spots, requiring only the wind to fan them into full-blown fires.

    I feel for the people of California...fires there are so often interface fires. Here, there are many small communities directly in the face of fire, and they are many, yet small in population. The interface fires here have been attacked aggressively, yet the fires have leapt out regardless, with the wind.

    There is a fire growing in size at 140 mile, about 7-10 miles from where I live. Even with expanded attack by the fire service, it is not out or under control, going by the last report.

    Many of the fires are close to one another. The worry is that they may join, some of them. The damage will be immense.

    I want to regain some of yesterday's optimism, but the smoky conditions and the red glow over everything is making it difficult!

  9. marion, i do hope that all will be well for you. as well as the animals there. i cannot imagine how it is like for you. stay safe marion.

  10. What is an interface fire?

    And where is the nearest motel which will accept animals, and why are you not there?
    Many questions from the southern climes not yet on fire.
    Take care.

  11. Hoping you stay safe and that the rains come soon - looking at my overcast sky, I am will the rain clouds your way.

  12. Alison,

    Thank you, dear. I doubt I will ever enjoy a campfire again! You wouldn't believe the smoke! There are so many fires; there is a tent city in the stampede grounds for the fire fighters who come from all over. Yesterday the smoke was thick and a sickly yellow, today promises much of the same. So far, I am still safe where I live.


    An interface fire is one that threatens buildings, as opposed to one in the wilderness with no human occupation. There are many ranches, guiding operations and small communities which have been evacuated due to the fires. There are fires very close to the City of Williams Lake, and the smoke there is just unbearable.

    I live in the hills...last night the wind came up with a ferocity that must have made the fires grow quite a bit. This morning, I see another community has been evacuated. The smoke is so bad it hampers air traffic; as a consequence helicopters and fire service planes have difficulty flying to fight the fire. One water bomber has gone down fighting fire in Lilloet in southern BC, with both pilots dead.

    I am actually safer where I am, dear Goatman, than in Williams Lake, which is all booked up with evacuees anyway...there are not that many motels. The City is worse on the smoke front than it is here, and I can't even imagine it. I am not looking forward to going into town on Tuesday for Hospice, but I will go to see how patients are faring.

    The heat, only marginally cooler than when the fires began, makes it difficult as was 38C (about 100F) on Friday and Saturday. So far, no rain in the forecast.

    If it should come to the point where evacuation becomes necessary, one is firstly put on alert, and then later, evacuation occurs. But there is some time to gather valuables between the alert and the actual evacuation. We are prepared as much as we can be.

    Thank you for your concern, my friend...I hope the chemo you are undergoing is not too bad?


    Thank you for willing those rain clouds our way...I will be over the moon when I hear that rain beating down. I think I said about three days ago...I can't stand that smoke anymore! But guess what...I can and have, lol!

    It's amazing what the human spirit can do!

  13. MARION,
    Seems you have the situation well in hand and you are doing the best, considering.

    I think my Dr. Ali Khojesteh (Iranian fellow with fluffy white beard and shuffling gait) is doing well with my treatment. (Wife says I shouldn't call him "chemical Ali"). I think he misplaced a decimal on my last office treatment --infusion they calls it-- since I could taste and seemingly smell the med for three days after the treatment --ick. But then suddenly I feel better and can walk about without the walker. My back feels stronger. So maybe he knows what he is doing. A little warning would be helpful . . . is what I am saying though.

    So maybe in a week or so things will be looking up more for all of us. My thoughts are with you all. lyle

  14. I think of you daily Marion as the fire alert airs on CBC in the morning and watch the BC and National news in the evening. Even we are on a full fire ban and I have not seen it as dry here since I have been on the islands...thirteen years. Depending on the wind we will have haze as a result of the interior fires but not near what you are experiencing. I hope you remain safe and well and that all the critters find safe haven.
    We had visitors here today who had just come from the Cariboo and they are saying that they saw a couple of wolves on or near the road and when you see them during the day they need to be shot!!!! They have no understanding of what the fires do to wild life! My heart aches for the animals.
    Smiles and my thoughts are with you and your beautiful home.

  15. Goatman,

    So glad Chemical Ali has things under control and that you are feeling better. I have been thinking of you!!!

    We are travelling to the coast next week; I hope the rains will come before least a little. I really don't like leaving the house with these conditions but the trip has been planned a while ago. We have a sitter here who will get the dogs out, should it come to that.

    I believe there are more than 400 fires presently burning in BC right now...smoky skies are everywhere. Even the Coast has seen some of the smoke.

  16. Carolyn,

    So far, most of the fires are still across the Fraser River to the West of us. Meldrum Creek fire has grown to 15,000 hectares and Dog Creek stands at 6,200 hectares, but those are yesterday's figures. Last night the wind may have added to the fires' growth.

    These are monster fires! The photos on the BC Forest Fire Information web site are amazing, some of them. I joined Facebook because of the info available on BC info site link to Facebook, something I thought I would never do, lol!

    In so doing, I clicked on something in my rush which sent invites to everyone on my address book...even my lawyer! I can't believe myself sometimes! Anyway, it does give updated information which is very valuable...and I will figure out Facebook another time!!!

    Along with wolves, deer, foxes and the like come the insects. Some of the insects are completely new to me...strange, long black creatures which belong in the deep forest. I've seen more birds being fed on branches of trees, as have others. I have not heard of wolves being shot if they are seen in the daytime, but many have different ideas here in ranch country.

    We will be ok, dear Carolyn...thank you for your thoughts. Sometimes, when I see a bad weather system moving your way to Haida Gwaii, I think of you as well.

    Instead of information showing fires growing, I hope I will soon hear about mop-up. I feel for the residents of the City of Williams Lake...the smoke was really, really intense yesterday morning. And the smell is in all stores and hospitals and senior's residences.

  17. Good grief how damn awful for you both! Exactly what you don't need/ I'm behind time-wise of course as I'm only seeing this post days after you put it up duh. I can only imagine how rotten all that is, I hope the worst of it is over now? Oddly enough I 'google-earthed' where you live last night and commented to hubby on how wonderful it must be to live in all those trees. Theres a;ways another side to these things, but keep positive, you do a marvelous job of that and I'm thinking of you both very much! Love, Michelle xxx

  18. I've been thinking of you and the fires - was just in CA last week with similar fire watches. yes, Natures way of culling but scary nonetheless and awful for asthma sufferers. I hope you get rain, and lots of it...soon.

  19. All Consuming~

    Yesterday someone said to me...These fires are all consuming!...I had to laugh which was rather inappropriate at the time. I had to explain I knew someone's blog by that name...I'm not sure they got it. Anyway...

    Trees are so wonderful to have here in the hot part of the Cariboo for any number of reasons, not the least of which is shade and protection for wildlife. But there comes a time every summer when I'd like to cut them all down...the feeling fades when the rains arrive.

    These fires are so monstrous and there are so many evacuees!Some people, even under orders to evacuate, won't leave their ranches. It puts fire responders at such great risk to get them out later.

    The smoke and haze has reached the mainland and the Island. Possibly, all of BC will be under poor air quality, with the exception of a few pockets. And so far, no rain in the forecast...just hot, hot and smoky!


    I so hope by some odd chance we get rain as well. Could do without the lightning, though. I am so impressed with the fire fighting crew...they go all out, each and every day, trying to stop these fires. But they are so out of control...and so many communities are impacted. I want to weep when I see the photos of this beautiful land conquered by these great sweeps of fire and smoke.

  20. Oh, man, I was just reading Blog Fodder's comments about the fires in Russia, and now I find that you're having the same problem right outside your door.

  21. Snowbrush,

    Yes, indeed. We are even seeing some smoke from the Russian fires, as if we needed more.

    I went to one of the stores in Williams Lake two days ago...and from the front door of that store I could not see the parking lot, which is separated from the store by an access road. Driving in that smoke was like driving in the worst fog you can imagine. I had no idea where I was on the road.

    The fires keep growing and joining, becoming complexes now. Instead of calling one of the fires the Meldrum Creek fire, it is now the Meldrum Creek Complex.With the huge amount of smoke here, it lessens the ability of aircraft to fight the fires. Ground crews have done an heroic job keeping interface fires from burning buildings, etc.

    It will take a long time for these fires to go out...the very size of them boggles the mind. I worry about the effect of the fire retardant from the planes on the lakes and rivers here. On our water supplies.

    I am also boggled by the evacuations. Imagine evacuating all those animals from the ranches! And lodging them. And the hay fields which may will the animals be fed, except by buying hay, which will make a rancher's life far more difficult?

    The fallout from these fires will be much worse than the extremely smoky conditions.

  22. hey my friend, how are you?

    is it any better? did you know this would become a real catastrophie? i sounds almost out of control but i think that is not the case? i hope not.

    are you and graham and your house and animals safe and able to stay put?

    love always,

  23. kj,

    I'm hanging in. We had a bit of rain yesterday which cleared the skies for now, although it did not put out any forest fires! We're heading into another hot week, so I hope the gains made will last.

    We're safe for now. It would take another lightning strike near me to put me at risk. The hot, dry weather combined with lightning surely did spawn catastrophic fires...I feel as tired as if I had run a marathon!

    The smoke has created a constant raspy voice and throat. And there are stomach problems, as well. I had no idea smoke from a forest fire could make one so ill!

    Thank you for asking, dear kj! I hope you are enjoying the bestest holiday ever...and I hope Emily is well, too... xoxo