Slashburner: Hot Times in the British Columbia Woods
Nick Raeside | Harbour Publishing
$24.95, 228 pp
Nick Raeside loves fires. As a child in New Zealand, as he reports in his new memoir from Harbour Publishing, he had an early firefighting experience. Seven years old, working barefoot in smouldering gorse and wielding a wetted burlap bag, he helped put out wildfire cinders close to a family cabin. He was hooked and remains fascinated by fire to this day.
Slashburner tells the story of Raeside’s decades spent in the B.C. woods in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Mainly, during those eventful decades, he worked as a slashburner, setting and managing fires to clear away the scrap wood left behind by clearcut operations and preparing the logged area for tree planters.
Slashburning is a controversial practice, with critics like Ben Parfitt — writing in The Narwhal earlier this year — arguing that burning slash unnecessarily adds C02 to the province’s emissions, and wastes wood that could be turned into value added products.