Day 3 of the Wilson Prairie Wildfire – Friday, July 6th, 2012. In contrast to Thursday evening in which residents were able to move freely into the fire area, Friday saw Alberta’s Ministry of Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) controlling road access so that firefighting equipment could be moved around with greater ease on Wilson Prairie Road. I arrived in the early afternoon to find access to Wilson Prairie Road being controlled. I couldn’t use my vehicle on Wilson Prairie Road. But, I could walk in, staying to the ditches when equipment was being moved through. Two-and-a-half hours walking in and out allowed me to see more of what was going on and how the blaze was being controlled. Dozers were creating breaks/cut-lines and pushing piles of brush together so they’d burn more easily/quickly. Areas of intended burn and back-burn were being created. One home was in harm’s way and helicopters were being used to sling water (from local dug-outs) to saturate the area in the case that the fire’s path changed with the winds. Air tankers had been tasked to other fires within the region; but, lead planes and Martin Mars water bombers (or the like) were being used to keep a consistent supply of water on the fire. On dust-ridden, gravel roads water trucks moved slowly dribbling water to keep dust down for vehicles moving in close proximity to one another. Later, I was able to drive around behind the fire to two other points to catch the more dramatic perspective of hot, billowing smoke moving upward into the atmosphere and the water bombers flying into fire area to release water on flames below.
Listening to – Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain, a tune played throughout last year’s forest fire that consumed Slave Lake, Alberta (spring 2011).
Quote to Inspire – “I enjoy traveling and recording far-away places and people with my camera. But I also find it wonderfully rewarding to see what I can discover outside my own window. You only need to study the scene with the eyes of a photographer.” – Alfred Eisenstadt
Thursday night – I’m checking the La Crete Online webpage lacreteonline.com/ for the next stock car race out on Wolf Lake Road (closer to Blumenort); there, I read and see pictures of a forest fire out on Wilson Prairie Road – south and east from La Crete, Alberta; windrows and forested land are ablaze. No one has been evacuated and only one home seems to be in the fire’s track. The Wilson Prairie area contains back roads of a Mennonite farming community, roads I used to drive when shuffling Home Education curriculum around to students – their names and faces and the faces of their parents come to mind. My hope for them is that the fire can be contained quickly and that they will not be affected. When I think through my students I’m reminded that the first home education student I met and worked with was one I had to get to by driving on Wilson Prairie Road and then finding another road – Savage Prairie Road. On Thursday evening, I drove out to the fire site staying a few hours, snapping photos and chatting with concerned residents driving by, amazed by the sight. It’s the second wildfire in the La Crete area this summer. On Thursday night, traffic tapered off around 1:00 a.m. with an occasional farmer still coming out to watch, to look and to assess.
Listening to – Matthew Perryman Jones’ Stones from the Riverbed. Other songs of the day are Sarah Masen’s Hope, Over the Rhine’s Spark, and Rumble by Link Wray and the Wraymen.
Quote to Inspire – “The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust.