Aftermath of fire lingers as anniversary approaches

In Focus column by Andrew Tripp, as published in the July 14 Boundary Creek Times.

As the bucolic rhythms of another Boundary summer settle in, residents can but reflect with emotion on last year, which offered up a dry spring, followed by scorching heat and tinder-dry conditions.

Those conditions helped make 2015’s wildfire season one of the toughest on record, sparking, among others, the Rock Creek/Westbridge blaze, which resulted in the destruction of 30 homes.

While the exact cause of the fire has not been determined, the most sober theory to emerge is that sparks emanating from a truck’s undercarriage were to blame, igniting the ample fuel that awaited the fiery particles in a gully below Bishop’s Corner.

Some grapple still with darker thoughts of arson, or the casual flick of a cigarette butt, which may have sent flames racing through parts of Rock Creek and up to Hulme Creek, where the fire turned its wrath toward Westbridge. There, in a seemingly arbitrary fashion, it razed numerous homes while leaving many others untouched.

It was, in a word, a disaster, leaving in its wake a torrid sense of disbelief, as most residents of this small, yet vibrant community felt like they had been picked up en masse and dropped onto the set of one of those CGI-driven movies that most consider, at the very best, guilty pleasures.

While the fire didn’t last long, it’s aftermath lingers as the one year anniversary of the fire approaches.

This summer, however, has brought welcome relief in the form of rain, making another event like that of last Aug. 13, while certainly not impossible, at the very least unlikely. At least for this year.

At the local farm supply store, customers have appeared noticeably buoyed by June’s dampness, some almost giddy with delight at recent downpours. Farmers are having a promising season thus far, with some eying multiple hay cuts, in stark contrast to last summer when only those with irrigated fields had enough growth to warrant a second run with the mower.

From a personal standpoint, my modest pastures are in considerably better condition than they were last July and we may just make it through to September.

Cooler temperatures and more precipitation in the forecast have combined to paint a completely different picture than that which graced the Boundary canvas last year.

Let’s hope the summer continues likewise!

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Another Canada Day has come and gone, and with it collective celebrations marking our good fortune to be living in such a steadfast and generous country.

Not so for my birth nation across the pond, as illustrated quite profoundly by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union and again be ruled autonomously by Britannia.

The vote, as most of you know, was painfully close, illustrating how socially and politically-polarized the UK has become. Many view the success of the “Leave” campaign as another indication of the nation’s growing disdain for European migrants, while others look to many Britons’ desire to retain their identity as a sovereign nation and acknowledge that the whole European “experiment” may not have been the best choice after all.

I must admit, somewhat sheepishly, that I smiled upon hearing some Britons‘ apparent regret at voting to leave the EU, many wishing they could vote again, this time with a more pragmatic stroke of the pen. Perhaps our neighbours to the south will take heed of Britain’s historic referendum and make sure they vote with their heads and not their hearts come November.

Otherwise, one of the most powerful men in the world will be none other than Donald Trump, and that would be a far greater travesty than Britain’s exit from the European Union.