Research indicates that the intensity and frequency of wildfires, as well as the duration of the wildfire season, is expected to increase under a changing climate. The Horse River Fire was the single most expensive natural disaster to ever occur in Canada, causing some $9 billion in damages and leading to response from all three levels of government as well as the private and non-profit sectors. The fire occurred during an unusually hot and dry period, with temperatures above 30C and a relative humidity as low as 12%. Though many fires in the region are caused by lightning, this particular fire is suspected to have been human-caused, though no one has ever been arrested for it. The fire was not officially recorded as ‘out’ until the following year, having sustained itself by smouldering in the undergrowth throughout the winter. A cumulative 3,244 structures are recorded as having been destroyed. One response to this event was to implement an extensive FireSmart education and implementation program, to lessen the effects of any future fires.
In the wake of The Horse River Fire that struck Fort McMurray in 2016, causing upwards of $9 billion in economic losses, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo worked with the FireSmart program to lessen the vulnerability of the residential structures to wildfire. The FireSmart program is designed to decrease the chances of fire spreading to a home from the surrounding area and it focused mainly on altering the physical landscape around the home, rather than the home itself. As a voluntary program that relies heavily on homeowner input, engaging the public has proven to be a constant struggle, but one that nevertheless yields results.Read the Full Story