Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Where there’s Smoke, there’s Firefighters

When we headed north to spend time in the fire lookout, things were pretty quiet around the fire camp with cool, wet weather.  But upon my return, things had done an about face.  Camp was bursting at the seams and there were about 5 helicopters flitting in and out on patrols and responding to smoke reports.  Two bomber groups were based nearby, and the fire hazard had climbed considerably.


But before all that we had to spend a little time at home to cut the grass and make sure  the house was still standing.


It appears that there were a few disagreements among the local deer population.


A lightning strike caused a fire to the west of the base, right near the boundary of Banff National Park.  It was discovered on July 3, and still shows up on the Alberta government fire map at 6,628 hectares, or roughly 15 thousand acres?  (Photos below are from local media outlets.)

There are some Youtube videos of the Spreading Creek fire as it has become known, here on Youtube.

In spite of all the action to the west, the fire lookouts I deal with still need supplies, so on my return it took a while to get caught up.


With all the helicopters at my base committed to fire operations, I had to look further afield to find an available craft.  A ‘212’ was available for this trip, and I even got to ‘fly’ it for a while!


Back at the Air Tanker base, 2 bomber groups are on alert to head for the next smoke, and heavy equipment sits waiting as well.


Other lookout servicing requires some scenic driving…


And some scenic flying …


And a look at some local wildlife …


Next post – rappel crews come to visit.

Friday, July 25, 2014

July is almost over!

How did that happen?  My last post was at the start of June, and here it is almost the end of July.  Well, contrary to appearances, Ms Hailey and I have not fallen off the edge of the earth or been abducted by aliens.  Even though there have been lots of bloggable photos and a few interesting events, there just did not seem to be the time to sit down and put anything up there on the cloud.  That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it!  Of course, many ‘RV’ type bloggers are at home for the summer and do not post much at all.  I could point out that Jean & Skip have not posted since March, when they got home to Vancouver Island; John & Brenda had not posted since June, but after they failed to show at the Dogpound rodeo, I paid them a visit in person, and that seems to have resulted in a very recent post; Mike and Fousie have not posted since they showed up on the NASA site on earth day; Don & Donna had not posted since June 22, but I also paid them a visit and a recent post has emerged!; and of course Wandering Willy has not blogged for years.  Sassy has been only slightly better than I, with a June 9th post.


But fortunately for those of us who like to read blogs, the Bayfield Bunch is always right up to date, as is RV Sue, and of course Wheeling It shines with great writing and photos to match.  I see that RV Dreams has ventured up into Canada to visit Tobermory, Ontario and Bruce Peninsula Fathom Five National Park – where I worked for a very brief spell way back when.

In my last post I referred to a road trip, which took place during the latter part of June.  The weather at the fire camp was somewhat depressing, so when I got offered the chance to fill in at a fire lookout in northern Alberta, I loaded up my furry grey partner, and off we went.


The lookout was about an hour and a half’s drive north of Slave Lake, and was situated among a cluster of small lakes, which meant that flocks of pelicans and a few bald eagles were always around.


Of course the tower comes with a little cabin in the woods …IMG_4797IMG_4860IMG_4889IMG_4967IMG_4874

My 10 days there went by quickly, the weather was mostly dry, and I managed to spot a lightning-caused fire one day.  Helicopters and crews were quickly on it, and it failed to make the news!


Meanwhile, Hailey kept an eye out for those big northern mices.IMG_0738

The whole area was busy and numerous helicopters and water bombers were constantly in the zone, keeping life interesting.


Before long, our time was done, and we headed back south for a brief visit at home.


The fire conditions had picked up considerably back at the home base, so when I returned to camp, it was a hub of activity and helicopters, and the smell of smoke …

Stay tuned for the next post! (It won’t be as long, promise)