Fort McMurray's reality is Kamloops' nightmare

Two & Out
By James Peters
May 13, 2016 - 2:18pm Updated: May 13, 2016 - 8:16pm

KAMLOOPS — Since the wildfire first laid seige to Fort McMurray last week, our stations have been inundated with people wanting publicity for their own relief efforts.

It's what we're here for, and of course we're happy to do it.

But the sheer number of events and fundraisers and other efforts to help Fort Mac is unusual.

It's a number we haven't seen before, despite other disasters unfolding in Canada over the years.

When you think of what happened in Fort McMurray, though, it's easier to understand why.

First, of course, is our direct connection with that community and with the oil sands broadly, with hundreds of Kamloops residents spending much of their time working in northern Alberta and BC.

The empathy is personal.

Even more relevant, though, is how familiar those images of destroyed neighbourhoods really are.

We didn't see that level of devastation in 2003, but we have seen it before - we've visualized it.

Fort Mac's reality is our nightmare.

Despite the best efforts of governments and individual homeowners, there is absolutely no reason it couldn't happen here.

Considering the vicious fire activity we have seen in western Canada and the United States in recent years, it becomes all too possible.

As nearly every neighbourhood in Kamloops expands into the wooded hills, they become more and more at risk.

Firefighters in Fort Mac were heroic in their efforts to save much of the city, but still, 24-hundred structures were destroyed.

There is only so much we can do to prevent a wildfire from ripping through the city we love and call home, and Mother Nature does the rest, for better or for worse.

If you pray, pray for rain.