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British Columbia in Flames uncovers the human stories of that devastating wildfire season

Last Updated Aug 16, 2020 at 1:27 pm PDT

(L) British Columbia in Flames cover (Source: Harbour Publishing), (R) Trees candle after firefighters light a prescribed burn on Slater Mountain, August 4th (Source: Harbour Publishing)

North Vancouver-based writer, journalist Claudia Cornwall talks about her latest book British Columbia in Flames

Cornwall has gone beyond the headlines, collecting the human stories behind the devastation for her latest book

Like many of us, she was glued to the coverage of BC's 2017 wildfire season

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Communities coming together in the face of disaster: a new book goes beyond the headlines of B.C.’s devastating 2017 fire season to uncover the human stories beneath.

North Vancouver-based writer and journalist Claudia Cornwall was inspired to write British Columbia in Flames: Stories from a Blazing Summer after flames threatened a cabin in Sheridan Lake that had been in her husband’s family for 60 years.

“But also, I mean, as I started to follow this story, I realized it’s not just me, you know, that’s affected by this,” she admits. “I wanted to see this fire from all kinds of points of view, from First Nations, the RCMP, firefighters, ranchers, cottagers, just everybody.”

LISTEN: BC in Flames

Ultimately, the book saw her conduct more than 50 hours of interviews across nine communities: Sheridan Lake, Ashcroft, Cache Creek, 16 Mile House, Lac La Hache, Quesnel, Williams Lake, Hanceville-Riske Creek, and Clinton.

Cornwall hopes the reader comes away with a deeper appreciation of our forests and the communities they surround, “to realize that we can’t just sort of sit back and let ‘er rip, but we really need to do something to protect the forests and also to be, kind of, encouraged by the example of, you know, that people can rise to the occasion.”

“These forests are the lifeblood of many communities in the Interior and people depend on them,” she points out. “We’ve got a lot of human capital that can be applied to this problem if we decide we need to do that, so I think we’ve got resources, on the human side for sure, to help our forests out.”

British Columbia in Flames: Stories from a Blazing Summer is available from Harbour Publishing.