MAATRUKAANAN (VEY II) – Despite the best efforts to control it, a wildfire on the arboreal world of Vey II threatens to destroy thousands of square kilometers of old growth forest.

“Fire is a part of the life cycle of the forest,” said Jannick en Liddel, a leading Maatrukaanan arboriculturist. “But a fire of this magnitude could have ramifications for generations.”

According to various sources the fire started in a remote area and had probably burned for days before it was detected. As a result, the effectiveness of normal measures used to contain fires like this were minimized.

“I haven’t seen a blaze like this in probably 20 years,” said Skire Zort, a veteran fire fighter whose Parivaar operates in the area of the fire. “It’s been dry this year and that area has a thick floor of evergreen needles. It’s the perfect kindling to feed the fire.”

Adding to the problem are strong westerly winds, which have been gusting up to 80 kilometers per hour all week. As a result the forward fire line has moved as much as 16 kilometers in a day.

So far two logging camps have been completely destroyed, but the concern now is for Harromet, a town of about 15,000 people in the path of the approaching flames. Evacuation orders have been given and as many as 10,000 people have already fled. Some of those who remain are ill, elderly or otherwise unable to leave, but others simply refuse to leave.

“This is my home,” said Foorman Drevan, a stocky mill worker who was digging a trench around his house. “I’m not going to abandon it without a fight.”

Firefighters are hoping to catch a break from the weather in the next few days. Satellite imagery indicates that a current of cold moist air could be drawn in from the northern sea region. There is a good chance this air mass would help develop a storm front that could produce rain.

“There is a risk, however, that the storm will also produce lightning,” warned meteorologist Koppa Nittel. “Cloud to ground strikes would likely ignite more fires than the rain would prevent.”

Arboriculturist Liddel said there may yet be silver lining to the dark smoke clouds on the horizon. He said the area where the fire is burning was once home to the rare Dhanak tree. The tree, renowned for it rainbow-colored wood, is exceptionally hard to cultivate and as a result is now nearly extinct.

“Dhanak seeds can lie dormant in the soil for centuries,” Liddel explained. “We’re not sure if it is the heat or the ash, but sometimes Dhanak seedlings will emerge after fires.”