While travelling back from vacation we decided to stop and have some lunch. But wait, what do we see? Is that smoke? Oh no, a forest fire! Wow, it’s growing as we watch and in no time is devouring a stand of trees that flank the steep sides of a valley to the south of us.
The blaze, which was already known to authorities, was located near Octopus Mountain deep within Kootenay National Park. The location here is close to the Alberta border and the smoke and haze could likely be seen from some distance on both sides of the line.
Started by lighting and not by humans as I was told, the fire had been soldering for some days, but was later was whipped up by winds causing it to grow quickly. It was not near any roads or settlements so it did not effect people or travel in the area. There did not appear to be anyone fighting it at this point and I believe the authorities were waiting to see if it may burn itself out before committing resources. Bringing people and equipment in is not a cheap proposition.
What an amazing sight it was, watching this thing grow and pulse like some kind of living being. It was mesmerizing. The flames were clearly visible and we could see individual trees burning up like matchsticks. And the smoke billowed up in huge columns, creating a nuclear-bomb mushroom cloud effect.
The damage afterwards is going to be ugly of course, but nature will bounce back and new growth will soon fix things up. Fire leads to renewal. Nearby, there was evidence of an old fire that ravaged the valley over ten years ago, a much larger blaze than the one we just witnessed. And while scars of this remain, nature is already hard at work reclaiming the area.
This pictures were taken from the Simpson River trailhead along the Vermillion River. There is a remote trail that gets close to the fire damaged area and it would be worthwhile visiting that spot in the years that follow. Can you say Morel mushrooms? These often grow in fire ravaged areas. Much sought after, they are a delicacy. In our pictures you can see bridge at the start of that trail.
We hiked through a burnt out area on this trail…
Spectacular Buller Pass
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Date: August 2012.
Location: Kootenay National Park BC.