Disaster Zone

When Wildfires Come Home

Wildfires can become personal.

by Eric Holdeman / August 23, 2017

I've written many times before about the threat of wildfires and the damages that they are causing. I have shared how people are moving into the woods not thinking about the potential consequences. Like people who live by the ocean shore, or near a river, stream or cliff/bluff, they are enjoying the view and their proximity to nature.

However, after living in the woods in Montana for over 30 years my son-in-law's parents lost their home last week to a wildfire. There had been many a wildfire season in the past that caused smoke to cover the area where they lived, but the fire never came near them. Unfortunately the latest big fire in Montana and their region claimed their home and a large shop. I'm told it is all a total loss.

While I presume they have fire insurance, the disruption, loss of possessions and now feeling of homelessness can be overpowering. When you hear a report that X number of "structures" were lost in a wildfire. Remember that in that number, it includes people's homes.

Earlier this year, I visited Fort McMurray, which had a terrible wildfire that surrounded the city located in Alberta, Canada. The helicopter pilot who gave us a tour of the region from the air, to include the industrial part of the oil sands, told us about how he was rescuing people from the fire and at the same time saw his own home go up in flames. He was not a professional first responder, but that day and week he was.