Canada: Alberta wildfires force nearly 30,000 residents to flee

spaminator

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Maui emergency services chief who defended not activating sirens during fire resigns
Hawaii has what it touts as the largest system of outdoor alert sirens in the world

Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Bobby Caina Calvan, Jennifer Sinco Kelleher and Christopher Weber
Published Aug 18, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 4 minute read

LAHAINA, Hawaii — An emergency official who defended a decision to not sound outdoor alert sirens on Maui as a ferocious fire raged has resigned.


Maui Emergency Management Agency Administrator Herman Andaya had said this week that he had no regrets about not deploying the system because he feared it could have caused people to go “mauka,” a Hawaiian term that can mean toward the mountains or inland.


“If that was the case, then they would have gone into the fire,” Andaya explained. He stepped down Thursday, a day later.

The decision to not use the sirens, coupled with water shortages that hampered firefighters and an escape route clogged with vehicles that were overrun by flames, has brought intense criticism from many residents following the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. in more than a century.

With the death toll at 111, the search for the missing moved beyond the devastated town of Lahaina to other communities that were destroyed. Teams had covered about 58% of the Lahaina area and the fire was 90% contained as of Thursday night, Maui County officials said.


Six forensic anthropologists with the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency are assisting in gathering and identifying human remains, the Pentagon said in a statement Friday. The group is experienced in verifying DNA from long-lost service members, many of whom died as long ago as World War II.

Mayor Richard Bissen accepted Andaya’s resignation effective immediately, the County of Maui announced on Facebook. Andaya cited unspecified health reasons for leaving his post, with no further details provided.

“Given the gravity of the crisis we are facing, my team and I will be placing someone in this key position as quickly as possible and I look forward to making that announcement soon,” Bissen said in the statement.


The lack of sirens has emerged as a potential misstep, part of a series of communication issues that added to the chaos, according to reporting by The Associated Press.

Hawaii has what it touts as the largest system of outdoor alert sirens in the world, created after a 1946 tsunami that killed more than 150 on the Big Island. Its website says they may be used to alert for fires.

On Wednesday, Andaya vigorously defended his qualifications for the job, which he had held since 2017. He said he was not appointed but had been vetted, took a civil service exam and was interviewed by seasoned emergency managers.

Andaya said he had previously been deputy director of the Maui County Department of Housing and Human Concerns and chief of staff for former Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa for 11 years. During that time, he said, he often reported to “emergency operations centers” and participated in numerous trainings.


“So to say that I’m not qualified I think is incorrect,” he said.

Arakawa, who noted Andaya was scrutinized for the job by the county’s personnel service, said he was disappointed by the resignation “because now we’re out one person who is really qualified.”

“He was trying to be strong and trying to do the job,” Arakawa said about the wildfire response. “He was very, very heartbroken about all the things that happened.”

Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez said earlier Thursday that an outside organization will conduct “an impartial, independent” review of the government’s response and officials intend “to facilitate any necessary corrective action and to advance future emergency preparedness.” The investigation will likely take months, she added.


Corrine Hussey Nobriga said it was hard to lay blame for a tragedy that took everyone by surprise, even if some of her neighbors raised questions about the absence of sirens and inadequate evacuation routes.

The fire moved quickly through her neighborhood, though her home was spared.

“One minute we saw the fire over there,” she said, pointing toward faraway hills, “and the next minute it’s consuming all these houses.”

Displaced residents are steadily filling hotels that are prepared to house them and provide services until at least next spring.

Authorities hope to empty crowded, uncomfortable group shelters by early next week, said Brad Kieserman, vice president for disaster operations with the American Red Cross. Hotels also are available for eligible evacuees who have spent the last eight days sleeping in cars or camping in parking lots, he said.


Contracts with the hotels will last for at least seven months but could easily be extended, he said. Service providers at the properties will offer meals, counseling, financial assistance and other disaster aid.

Green has said at least 1,000 hotel rooms will be set aside. In addition, Airbnb said its nonprofit wing will provide properties for 1,000 people.

The governor also has vowed to protect local landowners from being “victimized” by opportunistic buyers. Green said Wednesday he instructed the state attorney general to work toward a moratorium on land transactions in Lahaina, even as he acknowledged that would likely face legal challenges.

Since the flames consumed much of Lahaina more than a week ago, locals have feared a rebuilt town could become even more oriented toward wealthy visitors.

The cause of the wildfires is under investigation. But Hawaii is increasingly at risk from disasters, with wildfire rising fastest, according to an AP analysis of FEMA records.
 

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Wildfire smoke from N.W.T., B.C. affecting air quality in northern Ontario
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Published Aug 18, 2023 • 1 minute read
Smoke from fires in western and northern parts of Canada has created a hazardous air quality in Ontario's north.
Smoke from fires in western and northern parts of Canada has created a hazardous air quality in Ontario's north.
Environment Canada says wildfire smoke drifting from western and northern parts of the country has created hazardous air quality in parts of northern Ontario that could get worse next week.


Warning preparedness meteorologist Steven Flisfeder says the areas of Pickle Lake, Summer Beaver Lake, Big Trout Lake and Sachigo Lake in Ontario have been under special air quality advisories for the past three days due to wildfires in Northwest Territories and British Columbia.


Flisfeder says wildfire smoke in those areas could cause eye and throat irritation and other symptoms, but it is not yet as severe as it was during Quebec wildfires in June.

He says people with respiratory conditions should stay indoors, and he urges everyone to pay close attention to changing air quality forecasts across the province.

Flisfeder says the smoke covering northern Ontario could make its way to southern parts of the province and Quebec, but not yet in concentrations that could pose a risk to the general population.

He says the air quality could worsen as of Sunday and into next week, after improving on Friday and Saturday.

The area east of James Bay in Quebec remains under a special air quality statement due to wildfires that have burned in the province since June.
 

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Pollutants in wildfire smoke linked to dementia: Study
Author of the article:Kevin Connor
Published Aug 20, 2023 • Last updated 9 hours ago • 2 minute read
People regularly exposed to smoke from wildfires are more likely to get dementia, a study suggests.

People regularly exposed to smoke from wildfires are more likely to get dementia, a study suggests.


A University of Michigan study says people who breathe in higher levels of particulate matter, or PM2.5, from wildfires have a 13 % higher risk of developing dementia.


Residents in Toronto and New York are among North Americans who have had to contend with smog from wildfires this summer.

Six million Americans have dementia, and that number is expected to increase.

Studies in mice show pollution can lead to boosted production of beta amyloid proteins, which are linked to dementia.

Levels of PM2.5 in the U.S. have been trending downwards since 2000 — amid growing awareness and use of cleaner fuel.

Regular hearing checks, seven hours of sleep a night and more exercise can also reduce a person’s chances of coming down with dementia by up to 40%.


Researchers used data from the Environmental Predictors of Cognitive Health and Aging study — which tracks environmental exposures on adults and the cognitive diseases they develop.

They relied on a sample of 27,857 people from the study who had joined between 1998 and 2016. All were over the age of 50 and did not have dementia.

Throughout the decade they were monitored, a total of 4,105 participants were diagnosed with dementia — or 14% of participants.

People exposed to road traffic fumes had an up to 6% higher risk of dementia, while those exposed to smoke from coal plants had an up to 3% higher risk. But the researchers said this association was not robust.

Dr Roy Harris, an environmental expert from the University of Birmingham who was not involved in the research, said “this paper provides useful support for the earlier findings in a number of studies that exposure to fine particles (PM2.5) has adverse effects on cognitive function and can accelerate the onset of dementia.”

“The apparently larger association with particles arising from agriculture and wildfires is less convincing, with results only just achieving statistical significance. There are important policy implications of identifying those sources or chemical components of particles most associated with the adverse effects,” he said.

“However, the scientific work to date does not provide a coherent picture, with many particle sources and components indicted by the various studies.”
 

petros

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Pollutants in wildfire smoke linked to dementia: Study
Author of the article:Kevin Connor
Published Aug 20, 2023 • Last updated 9 hours ago • 2 minute read
People regularly exposed to smoke from wildfires are more likely to get dementia, a study suggests.

People regularly exposed to smoke from wildfires are more likely to get dementia, a study suggests.


A University of Michigan study says people who breathe in higher levels of particulate matter, or PM2.5, from wildfires have a 13 % higher risk of developing dementia.


Residents in Toronto and New York are among North Americans who have had to contend with smog from wildfires this summer.

Six million Americans have dementia, and that number is expected to increase.

Studies in mice show pollution can lead to boosted production of beta amyloid proteins, which are linked to dementia.

Levels of PM2.5 in the U.S. have been trending downwards since 2000 — amid growing awareness and use of cleaner fuel.

Regular hearing checks, seven hours of sleep a night and more exercise can also reduce a person’s chances of coming down with dementia by up to 40%.


Researchers used data from the Environmental Predictors of Cognitive Health and Aging study — which tracks environmental exposures on adults and the cognitive diseases they develop.

They relied on a sample of 27,857 people from the study who had joined between 1998 and 2016. All were over the age of 50 and did not have dementia.

Throughout the decade they were monitored, a total of 4,105 participants were diagnosed with dementia — or 14% of participants.

People exposed to road traffic fumes had an up to 6% higher risk of dementia, while those exposed to smoke from coal plants had an up to 3% higher risk. But the researchers said this association was not robust.

Dr Roy Harris, an environmental expert from the University of Birmingham who was not involved in the research, said “this paper provides useful support for the earlier findings in a number of studies that exposure to fine particles (PM2.5) has adverse effects on cognitive function and can accelerate the onset of dementia.”

“The apparently larger association with particles arising from agriculture and wildfires is less convincing, with results only just achieving statistical significance. There are important policy implications of identifying those sources or chemical components of particles most associated with the adverse effects,” he said.

“However, the scientific work to date does not provide a coherent picture, with many particle sources and components indicted by the various studies.”
“However, the scientific work to date does not provide a coherent picture, with many particle sources and components indicted by the various studies.”
 

spaminator

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McKenna blames conservative 'arsonists' for many wildfires

Author of the article:Joe Warmington
Published Aug 21, 2023 • Last updated 13 hours ago • 4 minute read

This brings torching your political foes to a whole new level of burn.

It turns out Canada’s former environment minister now agrees many forest fires are the result of arson. But she has stunned some people when it comes to assigning blame for starting the blazes.


“You are the arsonists,” Catherine McKenna posted on X, while singling out “Conservative politicians.”

Oops.

What happened to climate change?

“Conservative politicians want to fight about a price on carbon pollution?” posted McKenna, now chair of UN Net Zero. “You want to make it free to pollute while Canadians pay with their lives threatened, homes destroyed, and their communities obliterated? So, what are you going to do? You are the arsonists.”



Talk about fighting fire with fire!

But McKenna is known to do that when it comes to those who won’t bow to the climate religion she preaches.

“I have no time for folks who are like, you know, ‘We shouldn’t take action,'” she said on CTV in 2018. “I don’t have time for politicians that play cynical games about climate action.”

While she said “I have time for Canadians who disagree with me, and I have conversations with them all the time . . . I don’t have time for politicians that pretend that climate change isn’t real.”

But calling conservatives arsonists is extra gas being poured on the flames.

On Aug. 19, she posted: “Pierre Poilievre cancels his anti-carbon pricing rally because of wildfires fuelled by climate change. You can’t make it up. Just remember this when it comes time to vote. #ClimateEmergency .”

The good news is that Catherine McKenna won’t be getting a pension, falling shy of the six years in office required for the gold-plated sinecure, writes Mark Bonokoski.
While Poilievre did responsibly postpone the event that McKenna referred to, she failed to mention that the RCMP in Yellowknife says four “female youths” were charged with arson for trying to light a fire in a “green space” and police are hunting two men suspected of sparking another fire.

When asked about McKenna’s comments, the Conservative leader said, “really, really? Let’s get back to some common sense” and made the point he’s “concerned” about the “mean” rhetoric of Liberals who call people names “who don’t want to pay” a higher carbon tax.

It’s interesting because even though the summer of 2023 is a troubling year for forest fires, those blaming global boiling routinely omit there have been arson investigations in most of the districts contending with wildfires, including in B.C where blazes set on Vancouver island in July were said to have been “deliberately set.”


Pouring cold water over McKenna’s rhetoric, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith on CTV cited “all I know is in my province we have 650 fires and 500 of them were human caused, so we have to make sure that when people know that when it’s dry out there and we get into forest fire season, that they’re being a lot more careful because anytime you end up with an ignition that happens, it can have devastating consequences,” Smith said. “And so, that’s what I would hope that we can educate the public on, on that front as well.”

Authorities even determined the massive 2016 wildfire in Fort McMurray was started by humans.


While few argue weather, temperature, ground conditions or lightning strikes can play a role in forest fires, so can arson, accidental spread of campfires or sparks from a train — something rarely mentioned by carbon tax proponents like McKenna, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault .


They are all in on it being one cause. While they personally don’t curb their lifestyles, and will drive and fly at will, they call those who don’t agree with them, nasty names.

McKenna returned to the altar Monday, speaking at the Association of Municipalities conference in London, Ont., further pushing the climate hysteria narrative.

“This summer was a wake-up call making it clear that climate change isn’t a distant threat but impacting on the lives of Canadians now,” McKenna posted on X. “We not only need to double down on climate action, we need to build more resilient communities.”

It is clear her former cabinet colleagues are not doing their part in lowering carbon output. Instead of having a Zoom call, most members of Trudeau’s cabinet flew out to Charlottetown, P.E.I., for a three-day retreat.

McKenna has not been critical of the Liberal politicians who could lead by example and simply meet in Ottawa.


But as McKenna has said before “if you actually say it louder, we’ve learned in the House of Commons, if you repeat it, if you say it louder, if that is your talking point, people will totally believe it.”

This time, as the Liberals wallow in the polls behind the surging Conservatives, many Canadians are not buying the spin, no matter how loudly it’s presented.
 

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Biden likens Maui wildfires to 'insignificant' kitchen fire in his home
Author of the article:Kevin Connor
Published Aug 22, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 2 minute read

President Joe Biden told a group of Maui wildfire survivors that he could understand their pain because firefighters “ran into flames” at his own home to rescue First Lady Jill Biden.


The president was trying to make a connection with a community centre audience by talking about a small kitchen fire in 2004 at his Wilmington, Del., home, which fire officials said “could be considered an insignificant fire” because it was quickly put out.


“I don’t want to compare difficulties, but we have a little sense — Jill and I — what it’s like to lose a home,” Biden told the Lahaina residents, whose town was destroyed on Aug. 8 in wildfires that killed at least 114 people.

“Years ago now — 15 years ago — I was in Washington doing Meet the Press. It was a sunny Sunday and lightning struck at home on a little lake that is outside of our home — not on a lake, a big pond,” Biden said.

“And it hit a wire and came up underneath our home into the heating ducts, air conditioning ducts. And to make a long story short, I almost lost my wife, my ’67 Corvette and my cat.”


The president has told differing versions of the story in the past.

At a fire prevention convention in October, he said, “We almost lost a couple firefighters” during the blaze.

At an infrastructure event in 2021, he said he “had a house burn down with my wife in it.”

In a statement last year, Delaware’s Cranston Heights Fire Company said: “For the fire service, this could be considered an insignificant fire as it did not lead to multiple alarms and did not need a widespread incident response throughout the county. However, in the case for any homeowner, it was obviously significant at the time and was quickly responded to by the local firefighters.”

The group of Maui residents Biden spoke to didn’t take kindly to his house fire comparison.

Earlier in the day, the president was met by dozens of protesters who chanted “Go home, Joe” and held signs saying “No Comment” in reference to Biden’s refusal to comment on the disaster when asked last week about the mounting death toll.
 

petros

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Nov 21, 2008
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Biden likens Maui wildfires to 'insignificant' kitchen fire in his home
Author of the article:Kevin Connor
Published Aug 22, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 2 minute read

President Joe Biden told a group of Maui wildfire survivors that he could understand their pain because firefighters “ran into flames” at his own home to rescue First Lady Jill Biden.


The president was trying to make a connection with a community centre audience by talking about a small kitchen fire in 2004 at his Wilmington, Del., home, which fire officials said “could be considered an insignificant fire” because it was quickly put out.


“I don’t want to compare difficulties, but we have a little sense — Jill and I — what it’s like to lose a home,” Biden told the Lahaina residents, whose town was destroyed on Aug. 8 in wildfires that killed at least 114 people.

“Years ago now — 15 years ago — I was in Washington doing Meet the Press. It was a sunny Sunday and lightning struck at home on a little lake that is outside of our home — not on a lake, a big pond,” Biden said.

“And it hit a wire and came up underneath our home into the heating ducts, air conditioning ducts. And to make a long story short, I almost lost my wife, my ’67 Corvette and my cat.”


The president has told differing versions of the story in the past.

At a fire prevention convention in October, he said, “We almost lost a couple firefighters” during the blaze.

At an infrastructure event in 2021, he said he “had a house burn down with my wife in it.”

In a statement last year, Delaware’s Cranston Heights Fire Company said: “For the fire service, this could be considered an insignificant fire as it did not lead to multiple alarms and did not need a widespread incident response throughout the county. However, in the case for any homeowner, it was obviously significant at the time and was quickly responded to by the local firefighters.”

The group of Maui residents Biden spoke to didn’t take kindly to his house fire comparison.

Earlier in the day, the president was met by dozens of protesters who chanted “Go home, Joe” and held signs saying “No Comment” in reference to Biden’s refusal to comment on the disaster when asked last week about the mounting death toll.
Gees thats like comparing Hunters burned lips from a hot crack pipe to a pinhole burn in Joes shirt from a hash joint.
 
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Ron in Regina

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British Columbia has pulled firefighting crews out of the North Shuswap area after a group of protesters confronted RCMP at a highway checkpoint, where the demonstrators argued the Mounties do not have the authority to block people from entering a wildfire evacuation zone.

Forrest Tower (Seriously? Forrest Tower?), a spokesperson for BC Wildfire Service, on Thursday confirmed the Wednesday evening retreat and attributed it, in part, to the protesters on the Trans-Canada Highway near Sorrento. The crews were reassigned to neighbouring firefighting efforts and have not yet returned. BCWS said the protest, in an area where tension between local residents and fire officials is high, put its teams in danger?
1692979931307.jpeg
 

petros

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petros

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The last time we were out there during Covid, the kids lived in Vernon itself, but moved in the last year to Coldstream…

The air is thick there with smoke much of the time lately. I’m hoping they get a couple of inches of rain. 🤞
In my 17 summers there there was never smoke or fires of mention. Just one lightning strike on Spion Kop mtn just above where we lived that set a tree on fire.
 
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