‘Crushing consequences’: experts see growing risk as wildfires crash into communities

By Brenna Owen THE CANADIAN PRESS The fire department in Slave Lake, Alta., had a long-standing plan for tackling wildfire encroaching on the community, but in May 2011, flames from a nearby forest blewover suppression effortsand destroyed several hundred homes and other buildings. “I think that was the most shocking time of my entire career and maybe of my life, where you’re so sure that something’s going to work, and then it doesn’t ? with crushing consequences,” said Jamie Coutts, the former Slave Lake fire chief. A firefighter for more than 30 years, Coutts said wildfires have been burning “hotter, faster (and) crazier” over the last decade, and “every single person that lives in the forest is on a collision course with something disastrous happening.” Research suggests that so-called interface…

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