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Forest Fires cause ‘Morning of Darkness’ in Prince George, BC

Forest fires are a common scenario during the summer in Northern British Columbia. Summer tends to only last around 3-4 months but it can be hot and dry because of very little precipitation. One year ago, Prince George, a city in Northern British Columbia, woke up to complete darkness. On July 18th 2014 the darkness of night never ceased as the clocks kept ticking closer and closer to noon.

Morning of Darkness, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, Forest fires

Photo Credit: Deanna Gill

The residents who awoke to this darkness had no idea what could have caused this blackout. Of course, our minds tend to think the worst when approached with scenarios we are completely uncertain about. Did the apocalypse come over night? Is the sun ever going to shine again? Is the earth on fire?!

Eventually the skies started getting lighter as time progressed; as the light spread through the sky all that could be seen were eerie orange-ish clouds in the sky. Residents of the city captured many images throughout the darkness and reached out to social media to find an answer to this bizarre occurrence.

Morning of Darkness, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, Forest fires

Photo Credit: Linda Mitchell Weeks – Taken at 7am | Sunrise approx 5:30am

Morning of Darkness, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, Forest fires

Photo Credit: Deanna Gill | An eerie orange glow covered the city as light began to appear in the sky

Forest Fires in Northern British Columbia

In the summer of 2014 there were over 160 forest fires burning through British Columbia. There are two main ways forest fires are started: Human activity and lightning. It doesn’t take much to start a forest fire during the hot, dry summer season in British Columbia. As of July 18th, 2014 there were 12 significant forest fires burning throughout the province. Significant meaning, large in size, a threat to people and their homes and causing power outages and road closures.

Morning of Darkness, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, Forest fires

Photo Credit: Cindy Bouchard | The iconic figure of Prince George – Mr. PG

How could the forest fires cause this blackout over the city?

“In Prince George Friday morning the smoke was so thick from nearby fires that the street lamps had to be lit again. The smoke is from the Chelaslie Fire near Tetachuk Lake, which was very active on Thursday and residents of Prince George were seeing those effects a day later. The smoke was mixed in with a rain system, bringing the first serious rain to the area for a couple of weeks.” – Global News

It is common to have smoke from local forest fires enter the city during the summer. Though, what made this specific occurrence happen was the rain that coated the fire, caused an immense excess of smoke to come off and, literally, black out the sun. The Chelaslie Arm forest fire totaled over 20,000 hectares.

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 Please take note…

Forest fires can start just by throwing your lit cigarette out the window of your car and/or leaving a campfire unattended. You don’t want to be responsible for a forest fire; be sure to abide by laws in regards to potential camp fire bans in your region in the summer.

If you spot a forest fire in British Columbia call: 1-800-663-5555 or call *5555 toll free on most cellular networks.

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Morning of Darkness, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, Forest fires

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Have you ever witnessed a forest fire? What would you do in this type of scenario?

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Dawn Kealing

Travel Blogger at Life, Love and Adventure
Hey! I'm a 20 something Canadian with backgrounds in Photography and Art. I'm here to bring you the most current information on travel and keep you up to date on the best adventure destinations around the world!

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35 Responses to “Forest Fires cause ‘Morning of Darkness’ in Prince George, BC”

  1. Travel-Ling August 18, 2015 at 7:05 pm #

    What a scary experience. I could just imagine the confusion the locals would have felt to wake up to utter darkness. The smell of smoke would have been terrible too. It makes me angry to think how a careless act like throwing a cigarette butt can cause something so potentially devastating.
    Travel-Ling recently posted…7 Reasons Why Croatia MUST be on your European Bucket ListMy Profile

    • Dawn Kealing August 19, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

      I think the worst part is people don’t realize how easy it is to start a fire, which could ultimately develop into a forest fire. :( It’s not only the forests that get harmed in these fires; the forest is home to so many species of animals. It truly can be devastating. :(

  2. Conor August 19, 2015 at 7:09 am #

    Whoa Dawn, that is seriously creepy! But brilliant photos at the same time. How was it breathing wise?

    • Dawn Kealing August 19, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

      I’m lucky some people within the city were able to capture it; it certainly was creepy! When there is severe forest fires in the area it causes a lot of trouble for people with breath problems; though, not only them. There’s an alert that gets passed around informing even people without breathing problems to stay inside and avoid strenuous activities because of the smoke. It’s difficult also in the sense that houses get so hot and you can’t cool them off by opening the doors or windows because the smoke smell will come inside.

  3. Nikita August 19, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    Wow, that’s intense! So scary. Your pictures are eerily beautiful though. And a pretty decent PSA at the end there :)
    Nikita recently posted…The Ghosts of Childhood SummersMy Profile

    • Dawn Kealing August 19, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

      Hey Nikita,

      Thanks so much. :) It was definitely eerie yet beautiful in its own sense. I think I was able to think it was more beautiful after I realized the world wasn’t ending. :D

  4. chrysoula August 21, 2015 at 1:47 am #

    It sounds like a scary experience. We suffer from a lot of fires during the summer months in Greece, from which 99% was caused by humans.
    chrysoula recently posted…Day cruise from Athens – Hydra, Poros, AeginaMy Profile

    • Dawn Kealing August 22, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

      Ugh, 99%, that is so terrible. :( When will people start being more responsible; forest fires shouldn’t be caused by humans. Obviously they will still happen from other causes, like lightning; though, from humans is just sad. :( There’s some really bad fires in BC right now that are destroying a lot of peoples houses, campsites and more; it’s believed to have been started by human activity. :(

  5. Lauren August 21, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

    Wow this is crazy! I hope everyone was staying safe <3

  6. Jennifer Ryder Joslin August 21, 2015 at 10:07 pm #

    Looks so scary, Dawn! About ten years ago I reported on forest fires in San Diego, California. A really eye opening and freaky experience. Forest fires can be devastating, and are often easily preventable. Thanks for spreading the message to people to about how to prevent and report them!
    Jennifer Ryder Joslin recently posted…Maya Bay, Thailand: Living Life by a Bucket ListMy Profile

    • Dawn Kealing August 22, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

      That must have been quite the experience, and possibly not the greatest kind. California probably gets some pretty bad fires. :( I think it’s important to inform people of what to do in these situations because the sooner a forest fire is noticed the sooner it can be contained and extinguished.

  7. Natasha Amar August 22, 2015 at 1:45 am #

    Such a scary experience when you don’t know what is going on and these crazy (worst case ever) scenarios begin to run through your head.
    Natasha Amar recently posted…Tasting Gràcia: A Walking Food Tour with Devour BarcelonaMy Profile

  8. Cailin August 22, 2015 at 9:17 am #

    So sad :(

  9. Orana August 22, 2015 at 11:06 am #

    Forest fires are so scary! They spread so quickly and are so difficult to control. What a crazy story about this particular forest fire in BC. Very eerie!

  10. Carol Colborn August 22, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    It’s good you are tackling this subject…so timely! But I never thought Prince George, or northern British Columbia, is also affected! I thought they went only as far up as eastern Washington. We were there in August of 2009!

    • Dawn Kealing August 25, 2015 at 11:32 am #

      We certainly get forest fires way up here too, unfortunately. :( It has become more and more common in the past few years, it’s almost expected. They only positive of that is we can try to prepare more for each coming year.

  11. Elaine J. Masters August 22, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    How harrowing and scary. I was evacuated once in San Diego when wildfires were climbing close to a canyon nearby. The air wasn’t as dense as yours but it was crippling. So hope that all slows down quickly without too much damage.
    Elaine J. Masters recently posted…Vacation car rental insurance – Does your credit card cover you?My Profile

    • Dawn Kealing August 25, 2015 at 11:30 am #

      Yikes! That would be terrifying! I personally have never been evacuated, thankfully! Though, there’s a lot of fires in Southern BC to Central BC that have destroyed houses and properties so far this summer. :(

  12. Annita August 22, 2015 at 7:53 pm #

    Great info. I didn’t realize a forest fire could blacken a whole city. Fascinating and such great precautionary information to help keep our communities safe and free of forest fires.

    • Dawn Kealing August 25, 2015 at 11:29 am #

      We didn’t either… but now we do. :) I think I can speak for most in the city when I say, “We don’t want it to happen again.”

  13. Danka August 22, 2015 at 9:55 pm #

    Hey Dawn!
    What a great article! I seriously had no idea that this could happen – a complete black out! Wow! That would freak me out to be honest! And I am really glad that you are covering this topic because there are still so many irresponsible tourists out there! We should be more careful and take care of our nature!
    Im just curious, how long does it take for the air to be clean again? Like how long do you still smell the smoke when you are breathing?
    Danka recently posted…Život v Kalifornii – Rozhovor s Henrietou StepanovskyMy Profile

    • Dawn Kealing August 25, 2015 at 11:28 am #

      Hey Danka, thanks for stopping by. :)

      It really is a serious thing and was quite terrifying! For the air to be clean again it really varies; mostly on, if the fire is still burning or if it has been extinguished, the direction the wind is blowing the smoke and rainfall. Rainfall cleans the air; though, in this instance the rain wet the fire which is good except it caused an excess of smoke to be releases and evidently blocked the sun out for us. Another interesting thing the smoke can do is cause the sun to appear red in the sky, the smoke coverage literally makes it look as if the sun is a big red ball. I recommend looking up a photo on google (If you look up ‘sun during forest fires’ you’ll get some good examples.)

  14. Veronika August 23, 2015 at 2:27 am #

    Hi! I Only watch the news on fires in US on TV and it’s quite scarry. Once the forests start to burn, it’s hard to deal with them. Your experience must have been scary! Thanks for sharing.

  15. travelling chingrita August 23, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

    The pictures are pretty gnarly. I’ve heard many things about the devastation of forest fires out west but thanks for writing and sharing.
    travelling chingrita recently posted…The Best City in Canada is…My Profile

  16. Kate August 23, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    That looks terrifying and I’m sure its easily spread. Such a devastating things for forests but also the animals and even nearby cities. It seems to have a far reaching effect. The smoke must be a worry being so close. Was everyone ok? How long did it take to get control over the fire? Has it been replanted now? Lots of questions! Great post, I’d love to know more
    Kate recently posted…The Farne Islands, NorthumberlandMy Profile

    • Dawn Kealing August 25, 2015 at 11:35 am #

      For this specific fire it took around 3 weeks to get it under control, it’s tough because wind can change direction in a moment and start the fire on a new path. Thankfully nobody was injured in this fire and there were no structures effected yet they would have been if we didn’t have such good firefighters. They do not replant when there is a forest fire, I’m not 100% certain as to why that is though. It’s a real tragic thing, the worst is when it isn’t naturally caused though. :(

  17. Mia August 23, 2015 at 6:02 pm #

    Wow, I had no idea that a fire could cause a blackout over an entire city. This is incredibly scary. Such a cool feature for a post to bring awareness to this issue.
    Mia recently posted…GRAND PALACE & WAT PO – BANGKOK, THAILANDMy Profile

  18. Jen Seligmann August 23, 2015 at 7:15 pm #

    Its good to see people spreading the word about the lighting of fires Dawn.
    I live in Australia, a country that gets hit year after year by terrible fires, some of which have taken lives. One of the worst I remember from my local area was waking up on Christmas Day to a sky that looked like dooms day was upon us and ash falling from the sky forming a layer on our pool. The fire was 20 kilometres away!
    Jen Seligmann recently posted…26 Photos That Prove Wanaka is AmazingMy Profile

    • Dawn Kealing August 25, 2015 at 11:38 am #

      Wow, that would be terrifying!! We have definitely had ash enter the city and cover our cars and roads while the fires are active, it’s pretty unbelievable what the fires can do and how fast they can move.

      We actually get firefighters sent from Australia to come help the province in the summer times when the fires are out of control.

  19. Stacey Valle August 24, 2015 at 12:42 am #

    I can’t imagine that feeling to waking up to this! Must be very scary. In my home area, Los Angeles, we just had a great fire in the mountain nearby since we also get very little precipitation as well.
    Stacey Valle recently posted…Visiting the world’s most heavily fortified border: The DMZMy Profile

    • Dawn Kealing August 25, 2015 at 11:40 am #

      Yikes! :( Mountain fires are really bad, because of the elevation they get a large amount of wind that can cause the fires to jump from treetop to treetop. :( We had a few of those this year as well, currently one is active by a city called Kelowna, here in BC. :(

  20. Leticia August 24, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

    We’ve been having lots of fires over here too. Wonder why people ain’t aware of the danger of a cigarette that is thrown out the window or from campfires…
    Thanks for spreading the word
    Leticia recently posted…A short photo trip: visiting Monçao by the Minho river (Portuguese side)My Profile

  21. Connie Reed August 24, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

    Wow, these photos say a lot. Thank you for reminding everyone of the dangers in not properly extinguishing a campfire or even a cigarette.
    Connie Reed recently posted…Badlands National Park: Land BeautifulMy Profile

  22. Janna August 25, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    I live in Calgary and I feel you on all these forest fires. I’ve had the red sun all day from all the smoke coming in from BC and Washington.

  23. Holly August 27, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    Crazy how you got those photos. Its scary but beautiful at the same time

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