Feature image: Judi Beck, Fire Behaviour Specialist, said the wind caused “the worst of firefighting conditions,” and added, “It was a monumental task to run a safe organization to fight the fire.”
Photo credit: James Murray, Salmon Arm Observer, c. 1998
Dr. Judi Beck was the Fire Behaviour Specialist during the Silver Creek Fire. She needed to understand the weather, fuels, and topography, in order to forecast fire behaviour. No small feat given the complex terrain, and variations in elevation and exposure of areas potentially affected by the fire.
There were several “wind events” that actually affected the Silver Creek fire. The first wind event saw the fire jump the valley and race up Mount Ida. The second wind event was forecast to push the fire north off Mount Ida into town.
Judi requested an evacuation of the subdivision at the base of Mt. Ida and felt the weight of that action on her shoulders. She was concerned for the safety of the firefighters and the public, and also feared the chaos that a mass evacuation could bring.
“In subsequent Wildland Urban Interface wildfire events, I made sure I worked with the head of Evacuation Operations to ensure their evacuation planning made sense from an event scope and public safety perspective. And I made sure I got enough rest while working on such incidents,” Judi said in an interview.