[Environment] DISASTERS: FIRE : ENVIRONMENT GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE : COUNTRIES: CANADA : TOURISM AND TRAVEL: Wildfire at Fort Mcmurray Quickly Overtakes Canada’s Environmental Debate

 

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DISASTERS: FIRE :

ENVIRONMENT GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE :

COUNTRIES: CANADA :

TOURISM AND TRAVEL:

Wildfire at Fort Mcmurray Quickly Overtakes Canada’s Environmental Debate

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Wildfire at Fort Mcmurray Quickly Overtakes Canada’s Environmental Debate

William Yardley

May 8, 2016

Los Angeles Times

http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/ la-fg-sej-canada-forest-fire-20160508-story.html

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A shorter URL for the above link:

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http://tinyurl.com/hn4qn7p

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A wildfire was growing just outside Fort McMurray, but Matt Hepditch went to work in the oil sands the way he always does.

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Some people had evacuated, though reports the night before suggested the fire would move away from the hard-working city at the center of Canada’s oil industry.

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Then the wind shifted.

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“At 2 o’clock, they called us in and said, ‘If you want to go, you can go,'” Hepditch recalled. “Then chunks of ash started falling. That’s when I knew we had to leave.”

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Hepditch rushed home to his girlfriend and their 3-year-old daughter and loaded the pickup.

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That was Tuesday afternoon. It was the third day of May and 90 degrees. Within hours, “Fort Mac” would explode into fire and its nearly 90,000 residents would flee in a harrowing exodus.

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People drove across fields, ran out of gas, abandoned their cars, hitched rides with strangers and watched their homes and neighborhoods burn on surveillance cameras linked to their phones even as they sped away. All the while, flames roared beside the road. A gas station erupted. It was hard to breathe.

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It was dangerous and digital and biblical, and no one knows what will become of the city they left behind or how it all will affect the oil industry. “The city of Fort McMurray is not safe to return to, and this will be true for a significant period of time,” Rachel Notley, Alberta’s premier, said Friday.

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Though the cause of the fire has not been determined, the inferno has become symbolic of the tension within Canada over its role in climate change.

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Some Canadians see the fire as nature lashing back at those who mistreat it in the name of profit.

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Others see the hard science: a wildfire formed in conditions consistent with climate change striking with academic irony, not vengeance, in a place that helps supply the world with a fossil fuel. The evacuees were really climate refugees, they say.

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Still others view it as just very bad luck, a setback the oil industry will find a way to overcome.

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The debate reflects a country wrestling within itself at a difficult moment  and it is testing that famous Canadian civility.

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snip

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But environmentalism has also been rising in Canada, particularly in urban areas and on the coasts, and Trudeau, elected last fall, is striving to reestablish the country as a progressive international player, including as a leader on climate issues.

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Trudeau acknowledged that climate change will cause extreme weather events but added, “There have always been fires. There have always been floods. Pointing at any one incident and saying: ‘This is because of that’ is neither helpful, nor entirely accurate. We need to separate a pattern over time from any one event.”

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The overwhelming public response to the fire has been sympathy for its victims, and many Canadians have been strikingly kind and generous. People offer to buy lunch for people they have never met. Free water and coffee have been easy to find. Some hotels have lowered their prices or let people stay for free.

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A group of recent refugees from Syria has volunteered to help, as has the town of Lac-Megantic in Quebec, which is still recovering from the explosion of an oil train in 2013 that killed more than 40 people and destroyed much of its downtown.

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When Hepditch and his family arrived here in the tiny town of Wandering River, they were amazed to see volunteers gathered at the fire hall handing out free clothes and serving burgers to anyone who showed up.

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The complete article may be read at the URL above.

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Sincerely,
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