I am as appalled as anyone by what is happening in Alberta right now.
No, I'm probably more appalled.
As your self-designated, self-righteous rural Antipodean, the images of those helpless cars crawling between those immense walls of flame are almost more than I can stand.
If you will allow me to be brutally honest with you now, and I apologize for this in advance, we need to understand that most of the population of Fort McMurray should be dead right now. Absolutely trapped, suffocated and burned to death by this terribly strong and sudden fire.
Or was it so sudden? Authorities knew conditions were dangerously dry, had been for months. The fire that forced the almost instantaneous evacuation of a city of 88,000 people had been burning for days. Why did these people have to flee at the last possible second? Why were so many people alerted to the imminent danger, not by a well-coordinated and executed emergency plan, but by alarmed neighbours belting on front doors?
These questions will no doubt be asked in time. I certainly hope so.
Meanwhile, in safe quiet green little Pontiac, we are safe from such awful threats to life and property.
In my travels today, I passed all three of our so-called fire danger information signs. Those at the Quyon and Breckenridge entrances to our Municipality were simply and utterly wrong. Only the arrow on the Eardley-Masham Road was actually within any kind of useful section of the fire danger range and this, I am extremely sorry to say, is because I climbed through the ditch and put the arrow there myself a few weeks ago, attaching it in place with a screw I actually installed MYSELF several years ago. (I've used tape on the other two in the past. Of course, that doesn't last as long but I don't always travel with a screwdriver, curiously.)
I am sorry to sound cross and bewildered by this but the fact is, those poor troubled signs are the only indications your average resident of this region is ever going to have of an elevated fire danger.
And the more often the arrows point to the ground -- or, incredibly, blow off and become lost in the road-side grass - the less chance that we, as a community, will ever be prepared to escape alive from those insane walls of fire, if they should one day appear here, God forbid.
Please, please, capable and concerned members of the Fire Department and the council of the Municipality of Pontiac: please just look after our three little fire signs.
Don't make me keep doing it by myself.