Chris Czajkowski will be speaking about her new book Captured by Fire: Surviving British Columbia’s New Wildfire Reality, with co-author Fred Reid at the Courtenay Public Library on Oct. 15. (Submitted)

Courtenay Library hosts author talk, slide show on surviving B.C.’s new wildfire reality

Meet bestselling author and wilderness dweller Chris Czajkowski and debut author and homesteader Fred Reid at a slide show, talk and signing for their new book, Captured by Fire: Surviving British Columbia’s New Wildfire Reality ($24.95, Harbour Publishing), at the Courtenay branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m.

The illustrated talk, which is centred around the experiences described in the book, focuses on one of British Columbia’s worst wildfire seasons on record. In 2017, wildfires dominated the headlines, over 200 fires setting records for the largest total area burnt and the largest number of total evacuees in one fire season. In and around the towns of 100 Mile House, Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Princeton and Williams Lake, nearly 10,000 people received instructions to evacuate immediately, and some of them would be unable to return to their homes for months.

But when the evacuation order came, not everyone left. Both Czajkowski and Reid stayed behind to protect their properties, animals, and livelihoods. Living in remote areas, they both knew that their homes would be of low priority to officials when firefighting resources were deployed.

Captured by Fire alternates between these two authors’ dramatic first-person accounts of their experience throughout the summer. As lightning strikes started new fires and strong winds fanned existing ones, alerts fluctuated and even the firefighters pulled out. Both authors eventually had to decide: when is it time to go?

Their chronicle makes a fascinating and at times harrowing read for anyone interested in the ongoing wildfire problem in this province, and what it’s like to live through it up close.

Czajkowski has written 11 other books about her nearly 30 years of wilderness living, including Snowshoes and Spotted Dick, A Mountain Year, A Wilderness Dweller’s Cookbook, Ginty’s Ghost, Harry and Lonesome. She lives in Kleena Kleene, B.C.

Reid has worked in agriculture his whole life. He spent more than 30 years farming in the Fraser Valley before moving to the Chilcotin. He contributed to the organic standard for certified organic farming in British Columbia and assisted with the writing of Thailand’s organic standard. This is his first book. He lives in Anahim Lake, B.C.\.

The Courtenay Library is located at 300 6th Street. Admission is free and everyone is welcome, but for more information, phone 250-334-3369. Books will also be for sale at the event.

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