In the summer of 2003, British Columbia was ablaze.
Some 2,500 separate forest fires burned through more than 250,000 hectares of trees, fields, vineyards and crops—an area about half the size of Prince Edward Island.
Hundreds of homes and dozens of businesses burned. More than 30,000 people were evacuated in the path of a destructive fire so hot that whole trees burst instantaneously into flame.
A cigarette carelessly discarded on July 30 ignited the wildfire near McLure, B.C., on the North Thompson River, 45 kilometres north of Kamloops. It grew to more than 10 hectares within two hours. On Aug. 1, it jumped the river and became a firestorm that burned for 75 days, consuming more than 26,000 hectares of forest, 72 homes and nine businesses.
And that was just one fire. On one ...