Good news on the Gunflint Trail

Voyageur Canoe Outfitters
Rain in the forecast

In a quest to find good news I took a look at our weather station information from the Seagull Guard Station.  It’s easy to look at the amount of precipitation we received in the past 24 hours and become depressed that we didn’t get more. We received .01 inches of rain, for the folks who never liked decimal points that’s 1/100th of an inch of rain, not 1/10 of an inch of rain. That isn’t much rain but if you look deeply enough you can find the good in everything. In relation to the threat of wildfire things are looking better because we’ve had lower temperatures, higher humidity, more cloud cover which affects fuel temperatures and there is rain in the forecast for today. That combined with the fact the USFS might actually put a team on the ground for the John Ek Fire today is all good news.

I was thinking about all of the people across the world who have been affected by wildfire and the amount of stress it causes. I wonder if there has been a study done? I was trying to think about how to explain the different affects it can have on a person based upon their specific experience.  I’ve come up with a couple of analogies that you may or may not think are the same and if I offend someone in making references that seem harsh or callous I apologize but it’s my blog, not anything you have to read or agree with.

The first scenario is a wildfire that basically comes up out of nowhere and within hours burns everything in it’s path so severely there is nothing left to burn. Think of a town out west like Paradise, California that was destroyed by the Camp Fire with very little advance warning.  The fire came through burned everything to a crisp and with no fuel left to burn there was no longer a threat of wildfire in the area.  Remember, I am not trying to minimize this fire or the affects of fire in any way, I’m trying to explain the feelings or stress felt with this type of incident.  I’ll compare this to a fatal car crash.  A car comes out of nowhere, smashes into another vehicle, people die, there’s sadness, anger, loss and a mess to clean up.  It happened and it sucks but it’s over and while there are new things to worry about, in the case of Paradise, the threat of wildfire isn’t one of them.

The second scenario is like the John Ek Fire.  There’s this threat of wildfire looming, yet no flames have touched us. It’s out there, waiting for conditions to thrive and it could be deadly but it might not ever amount to anything. We’ll run our wildfire sprinklers to hopefully protect our buildings, we’ll fire wise our properties to clear away any burnable debris and we’ll hope for the best.  I’ll compare this to the Coronavirus.  The threat is out there and it could make us sick or it might kill us. Some of us choose to vaccinate or wear masks to hopefully protect ourselves but we might still get sick or die. It’s out there and we’re not sure what or if anything is going to happen.

Then there’s my last scenario that involves a comparison to the Ham Lake Fire. It came, it burned and it stuck around to torment us for weeks because it didn’t fully burn all of the fuel it could. It kept moving around, threatening to finish what it started or burn something new. There was loss, devastation and the threat of the unknown. If I go back to the car crash scenario maybe one person was pulled from the wreckage and brought to the hospital. Both lower limbs of this person had to be removed due to the damage done, there’s internal bleeding, swelling on the brain and the person is in a coma. It’s touch and go, day to day whether or not they will pull through. There’s the immediate loss and then there’s the continued threat of complications and/or death.

All of these situations affect people differently. You might not think these are good comparisons at all, that’s fine. I just wanted to help people understand the stress or trauma associated with experiencing wildfire or the threat of wildfire.  It’s probably similar to a bunch of other natural disasters I’ve never experienced first hand, like floods, earthquakes and hurricanes. Maybe it’s the same stress people who are in abusive relationships feel. If we haven’t experienced it ourselves we don’t know exactly how it feels or the stress associated with it but it doesn’t mean we can’t try to understand how another person is feeling.

We all have loss, stress and fear of the unknown on some level. We’re all going through something whether it is evident or obvious to others. As humans we should always be kind and compassionate to everyone because we don’t know what level of wildfire threat they are currently experiencing(:  What I want you to know after reading this blog post is, the good is out there and if you look deeply enough you’ll find it.

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