On Monday morning, as commuters began to head to work, the mercury in Kamloops sat at -3 C, with the sound of windshields being scraped echoing through neighbourhoods.
It had been less than a week since the icy grip of winter had finally relaxed and allowed above-zero temperatures to filter into the city. The Thompson rivers still featured ice and snow dotted the hillsides and shady parts of backyards.
Amid that cold landscape, a dozen city firefighters and 10 forestry firefighters were pressed into action to fight the first grass fire of the year.
Flames were blackening about two hectares just north of Tranquille on the Lake, two hectares that only a week ago were covered in snow.
The rapid switch from winter to fire season shows just how dry this region is, even with snow still in sight.
And Monday’s small blaze served as a reminder that the wildfire season is no longer contained to spring and summer.
Even snow and rain is no match for a spark in the sagebrush and grasses that seemingly remain dry year-round.
It is not clear how the fire started, but it is a reminder for all to be vigilant as the annual wildfire season begins again, this year a bit earlier than usual.
There is nothing we can do about lightning strikes in forests, but there is something that can be done about the causes of other fires, be it from an abandoned campfire, a tossed cigarette, a passing train’s sparks or an ill-advised decision to do some welding amid tinder-dry fuel on a blisteringly hot day.
The summer to come may yet be filled, for the third straight year, with smoky skies, due to forces beyond our control.
But there is much we can and should control and we need to start thinking about it now, even as the snow on the hills still melts and ice in the river continues to shrink.