Galiano Fire Update Seven Million Six Hundred Fifty-Thousand. And Six.

I actually haven't posted anywhere near that many items about the Galiano forest fire. Or on anything, for that matter. But this week has been filled with very little else for me and it's been hard to keep anything other than fire-related matters in my head for very long. Hopefully, it really is under control now and next week will be different. Right now, it really feels like it.

My friend, Shelley (who happens to be a typographer in the wilderness. With cats.) has done a much better job of chronicling the whole thing than I have. (And her fire updates are up to eight billion. Not the measly seven million six hundred fifty-thousand and six that I claim.) And it was on her blog that I found a link to a quote by David in The Vancouver Sun. And it's a silly quote, because he didn't say that. Well, he did say that, but he said a lot of other things, too. He said he wanted to go home but was quite content to wait until everything was deemed safe and that he was confident that when it really was safe to go home, we'd be told. And more stuff along those lines: about how everyone was doing a super job and he had every confidence in the fire team and yada-yada-yada. Of course without any of the yada-yada-yada, it sounds like a big whine.

"I want to go home!"

Which wasn't how it sounded when I was standing next to him standing next to the reporter and the words were coming out of his head. Oh well.

The other thing I feel like pointing out is the whole helicopter thing. I've managed to mangle two distinct creatures into one mythical hybrid. I keep referring to "the water bombing helicopters." An observant reader has pointed out that there is no such thing. There is the water bomber, above left, that I think has gone home now -- or off to fight some other fire -- and was just about the prettiest plane I'd ever seen.

I first saw it on Sunday night when we were trying to figure out if the smoke we were smelling was from our (propane and extremely protected and absolutely not dangerous to forests) barbecue or some other source. We sat on the deck while our yard filled with smoke (question answered: not from our salmon fillet) and suddenly the sky seemed filled with planes. A couple of them looked small and agile. Probably spotters of some sort. The other was this sleek, red bomber. A largeish plane, meant to fill its belly with water to dump on fires.

At one point, it passed right through our yard, perhaps a hundred feet over our heads. At another -- and this just 10 minutes or so before the evacuation order came -- when it passed over us, we got a little wet. We knew then that the fire was really close. When the telephone rang a few minutes later it was no big surprise. Actually, we were already stuffing our computers into their cases and the food and our clothes were already in the car. But when the fire bomber passes so close to you that you feel a drizzle? You're outta there. At least, we were.

The other creature is the beautiful Sikorsky heavy lift helicopter. (Above right.) I know very little about it, but it's very cool to watch it work. What you don't see in the picture above is this sort of pendulum-like ball it carries beneath it. With this contraption attached, it looks like it's a relatively easy matter to drop down over whatever water is available, submerge the ball, then head back to the fire, double-time. Unlike the plane that must actually come in contact with the water, the helicopter can just drag the ball along the surface without ever breaking stride. And they're fast. Unimaginably fast. Since I spent today between the fire and the water (at my house) I could see exactly how fast it works. And how fast is that? Very.

I'm glad the weather is cooler and the world doesn't feel quite as crispy as it did a week ago. I'm glad the fire is so contained and the firefighters so confident that they took away our sprinkler system. And I'm glad it's Friday. I'm really glad it's Friday. I think that means thoughts other than the fire will be possible soon. When things cool down in the burn area -- I mean, really cool down -- I might share a few pictures with you. And when things start to grow again -- certainly when things start to grow -- and the earth is revitalized from this big clean-up it's had, you can expect a few photos then, as well. But I'm hoping this is the last post I'll feel the need to share about the Galiano fire. We're safe. The forest is saved. And there are so many other stories to tell.


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