Even in retirement, Darby Allen can’t seem to get away from wildfires.
The former Fort McMurray, Alta. fire chief now lives in Vancouver, B.C., where the provincial fire threat is bringing back memories of his battle against the beast.
“It seems like these things are following me a little bit. Obviously I’m not dealing with anything in a professional manner, but I’m worried about these guys.”
The May 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire was one big wildfire.
Watch below from May 3, 2017: Fort McMurray marks one year since ‘The Beast’ wildfire. Reid Fiest reports.
In B.C., there are hundreds of fires spread out across different regions.
Allen says it’s shaping up to be an even more challenging fight than the one he faced.
“It’s just difficult — with that amount of fires — to put the resources on it you need.”
He also has a message for the evacuees who are waiting and worrying about how long they’ll be out: pack your things and don’t be a hero by staying behind.
“Don’t think that you can wait this out, because forest fires change quickly, and we know what happened in McMurray.”
Two reports into the Fort McMurray wildfire found communication could have been improved between different levels of government and firefighters.
Allen is reacting to the reports for the first time and says he’s satisfied with the assessment of the response.
He acknowledged there are improvements to be made, but believes there were no major missteps.
“I believe that anything comes out that makes it possible to plan a bit better for the future, I have no issue with that. I’m OK with the report.”
Allen is enjoying retirement but he’s worried that what he faced in Alberta, and what B.C. is facing now, is the start of a dangerous trend.
“Well this is a one-in-100-year event, but they seem to be happening fairly regularly all of a sudden.”
“There’s something weird going on, and it kind of worries me a little bit.”