Mark & Steve – Forest Fires, Part 1

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Mark and Steve discuss recent fires burning in the BC Interior, past fires and other fire related experiences. 

Mark: Here we are again.

Welcome back to EnglishLingQ, Mark here with Steve.

Steve: Hi Mark.

Mark: Hi Steve. What’s going on today?

Steve: Well, we did have someone ask about these fires in the interior of British Columbia.

Mark: Yeah, Maryann was inquiring.

Steve: Right.

Mark: She was saying that it seems like in the summers we have…I guess you see in the news that there are fires in California and in the west coast of North America and British Columbia, of course.

Steve: But, you know, there are fires.

I mean we live with nature.

We live surrounded by nature, by trees.

There are fires.

I mean we sometimes forget that there are seven billion people on the planet heading towards nine billion.

And, for most of history, there were…I don’t know a couple of hundred million at most or less?

Mark: Oh, for sure.

There have always been fires and I don’t think it’s restricted.

The fires are not restricted to California and British Columbia.

Steve: No.

Mark: I saw in the paper today that there are a bunch of wildfires in Corsica and Sardinia.

Steve: Corsica, Portugal, Greece.

Mark: Greece.

Steve: Australia.

Mark: Australia had some big ones.

I guess they don’t have them at this time of year, but they have them in their summer.

I think part of the reason why there seem to be a lot here is that there is a lot of nature, a lot of forests.

Probably because it is relatively wet most of the year and when we do have long stretches of dry weather there’s a lot of growth that can burn.

Steve: Well and it is very dry and hot in the interior.

People don’t realize that even on the coast here we haven’t had rain for two months.

Mark: Well that’s not true.

Steve: Well, we haven’t had very much.

Mark: Yeah, we had a few days of rain.

A few weeks ago we had two days of solid rain.

I mean we did have rain.

Steve: Okay, but we haven’t had very much.

I mean you can get six weeks with no rain, so we do get forest fires even on the coast.

I mean I have…

Mark: Oh, all the time.

Steve: All the time.

Mark: There are a lot of forests.

Steve: There are a lot of forests.

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: And, you know, I think there are several things that are different here; one is that we tend not to clean out the forests.

So if you go to Europe the forests there, in fact, are not natural forests they’re more like tree farms, you know, they’re plantation forests.

So you’ve got the standing tree and all the little twigs have been removed.

Mark: Plus, people are a lot closer to it in a lot of cases.

Like there are more people around, say, to put out fires, perhaps?

I don’t know.

Steve: I mean the fires in Kelowna are where people live.

Mark: That’s true.

Steve: But, the forest itself we, here, tend to not clean out the forests.

They do in Europe, but they have other problems.

Because the forests are just a bunch of telephone poles, when they get a big wind storm they get this tremendous blow down; whereas, our forests are more natural and a little messier, so there’s a lot of food there for a fire.

Mark: Right.

Steve: So there is, I mean, tremendous parts of British Columbia where all the trees there are of the same age because, you know, 100 years ago that vast area burned.

Mark: Right.

Steve: So, yeah, we do get fires.

And the other thing we do here, say unlike Japan where we lived, in Japan if they’re going to build they flatten a whole area and build little platforms to put the houses on.

Mark: Right.

Steve: And, in fact, probably most of the time, they’re converting rice land or something.

Mark: Right.

Steve: And even if they do build on the hillside they tend not to leave the forest there.

Mark: Right.

Steve: Whereas, here we build these houses in amongst the forests.

Mark: Right.

Steve: So in Vancouver we get a big wind storm and a great big 200-year-old hemlock tree falls on a house.

Or, in the interior, people are surrounded by these pine and Douglas fir trees…

Mark: Right.

Steve: …and they’re right on the edge of the forest, so they’re more vulnerable.

Mark: For sure they are.

There was that fire…I remember, ah…I mean was it five years ago they had that big fire?

The last time they had a big fire in Kelowna – Kelowna is a big city in the interior of B.C., one of the larger cities in B.C.

– I remember, actually, first of all, this fire burned out all these trestles on the famous Kettle Valley Railway…

Steve: Right. Mostly forest there, yes.

Mark: …this old railway that used to run from the interior down to the coast.

And the day before that fire my family and I biked that Kettle Valley Railway.

It’s like a biking trail because it’s no longer a railway.

Steve: They’ve turned it into a logging railway. Or was it not?

Mark: Logging and mining and I think it brought a lot of maybe coal from the southeastern part of the province.

I can’t remember exactly where, but I think that might have been part of it.

At any rate, we biked it because it had been turned into a hiking-bilking because it’s flat, it’s perfect.

I mean it’s a spectacular thing to do.

Steve: So you’re quite high up there.

Mark: You’re on your bikes, you’re quite high up.

You’re halfway up the mountainside if not higher and you’re biking through these ravines and along the sides of the mountain and you can look out over the valley and the lakes.

I mean it’s spectacular; over these huge wooden trestle bridges, over these big gullies.

I mean it was quite a spectacular thing to do.

And then they had the fire and it burnt all these old trestle bridges that had been there since they were built made out of wood, out of these massive…

Steve: …timbers, yeah.

Mark: …timbers and, so, but they all got burnt out.

Steve: And they’re not going to replace them.

Mark: They have replaced them, though, in fact.

Steve: Oh?

Mark: If not all of them some of them.

I mean you can go and bike it now again.

Steve: Oh, okay.

Mark: So they did replace them.

I don’t know if they’ve done them all, but they will eventually.

Steve: I mean people forget that the interior of British Columbia…I mean I remember from my school days when we were taught that the sort of Mediterranean climate zones of the world obviously included the Mediterranean, included California, included, you know, the coast of Chili.

I can’t remember where else, but the Okanogan was also included.

They have wet, dry, excuse me, they have hot, dry summers.

Mark: Right.

Steve: And that’s why it’s a great wine growing region and people were quite surprised.

Mark: And, of course, a great holidaying region because there are lots of big lakes there too.

Steve: Lots of big lakes, it’s very beautiful.

But forest fires are a fact of life.

Mark: Actually another interesting thing that same trip.

We’d been on that Kettle Railway biking and then I think the next night or one of those nights…you’ve been to the Mission Hill Winery there in Kelowna.

Steve: Yes, yeah.

Mark: So we were staying on the lake, so one night the people we were staying with we found a babysitter for the kids and then we went out for dinner at the Mission Hill Winery.

And then they had this bard on the vineyard where they had, I think, A Midsummer Night’s Dream Shakespeare play as you eat your dinner.

It’s this little amphitheatre in the winery.

Steve: It’s a spectacular building there.

Mark: Spectacular.

And they’ve built this little amphitheatre with a stage and in the background is the lake.

I mean it was just phenomenal.

Steve: It’s very nice.

Oh, yeah, no, no.

Mark: Beautiful summer evening and that night we saw the little fire starting.

You could see it.

Steve: Was that the fire?

Mark: The fire in Kelowna five years ago that burnt out.

Steve: Yeah?

Mark: Yeah.

So we were on the other side of the lake and we watched this thing and then we saw the smoke and a little bit of flame and, hey, there’s a forest fire starting up there.

Then we left the next day.

I mean I don’t know how many days it burned for, but it was…

Steve: It was a terrible fire.

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: Thousands of people had their homes destroyed.

Mark: Yeah.

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