On Saturday morning I woke up to a puzzling sound.
But after intently listening for a minute or two, the ‘tap, tap, tapping’ was unmistakeable.
Normally, waking up to the sound of rain on a Saturday morning would dampen my mood but right now, we can use all the rain we can get.
It’s been so long since we had a good drenching that I almost forgot what it feels like to be out in the rain.
And though the rain decided to come on the weekend, I was glad to see it – even if it did ruin my plans to hike the Ripple Rock Trail.
Figuring that it might be hard to hike in our gum boots, we changed course and went on a shopping excursion to Nanaimo where the rain was all the rage and the talk of the town.
And for good reason.
We haven’t had any significant rainfall for nearly two months.
As a result, the tinder-dry conditions have seen 251 active wildfires ignited as of last Sunday, and homes have been lost.
Dan and Jan Coates, the owner’s of Woodland Caribou Resort, west of Williams Lake, B.C., lost everything last weekend after an aggressive fire burning near Puntzi Lake destroyed their property, taking with it their livelihood.
The BC Wildfire Service estimates that more than 280,000 hectares – roughly the size of metro Vancouver – have burned across B.C. since April.
The fires have also brought smokey skies, which arrived in Campbell River last week. The poor air quality prompted warnings from Island Health to refrain from any kind of outdoor physical activity.
Being told not to going running outside, play sports, or even go for a walk, quickly makes you realize how we take things for granted. It was a big deal for us Island folk who aren’t used to those kind of conditions like they are in the B.C. Interior.
The smokey skies were a challenge for me as I’m sure they were for others with at-risk health conditions.
As an asthmatic, the smoke bothered my lungs but at the same time, I wanted to keep my windows open because it was so hot inside my house.
It seemed like a Catch-22, but I survived and was happy to see the smoke clear late last week.
To then see the rain and cooler temperatures prevail over the weekend was the icing on the cake.
I realize, though, it’s not enough and we need buckets more to get the wildfire situation under control.
The BC Wildfire Service is urging people to not become complacent because of two days of rain. In spite of the wet weather, approximately 60 new wildfires ignited over the weekend.
There is still a campfire ban in place across the province and roughly 2,400 personnel are on the front lines fighting fires throughout B.C.
But help is on the way.
A contingent of firefighters from Australia arrived this week to help fight the flames and the Mars water bomber, based in Port Alberni, will be coming out of retirement after the B.C. government last week signed a one-month contract to use the aircraft.
While the Mars is yet to be tasked with a specific mission, hopefully there’s some peace of mind in knowing it’s there as an option.
In the meantime, I’m hoping for the best for our firefighters, crossing my fingers for more rain, and praying that no more homes are destroyed.
It’s been a hot, dry summer and it only just begun three and a half weeks ago.
We still have more than nine weeks left of a summer that meteorologists have predicted to be drier than normal with above average temperatures.
So, let’s all do our part and think twice about where you’re dropping that cigarette, and respect the fire ban which applies to both campfires and beach fires.
So far we’ve been lucky in Campbell River; let’s keep it up and don’t be a firestarter.