Author(s): Sara Miller Llana

As wildfire season looms, these residents aren’t waiting for government help

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When the Bush Creek East wildfire roared like an engine over the hillside at the edge of his property last August, Karl Bischoff organized three dozen neighbors to fight off the blaze.

They saved his house and farm. But more than 170 buildings burned. The blaze was one of thousands that engulfed an area larger than Greece and marked the worst wildfire season in Canadian history.


Many Americans know about Canada's 2023 wildfire season because smoke choked their neighborhoods. Here, along the northern shore of Shuswap Lake, ground zero for one of the summer's worst fires, residents say they tried to play a part in containment but instead clashed with officials. As peak wildfire season looms, many say they've lost faith in the government's ability to keep the community safe and are searching for ways to rebuild trust. That trust will be crucial, here and beyond, as the risk of wildfires grows around the globe.


After last year's devastation, British Columbia put together a task force that issued 31 recommendations this spring. They included more firefighter recruitment, better technology and equipment, and more support for homeowners protecting their properties from fire. One of the pillars in the final report: more local involvement "based on a foundation of communication, co-operation, and trust."


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Hazards Wildfire
Country and region Canada
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