Jane Embury, director, looks at the impact of fires this month on both sides of the Atlantic.
Fire can be friend or foe.
It heats our homes and cooks our food but, uncontrolled, it can be an enemy like no other.
It’s a stark lesson being learned in three west-coast States of the USA.
More than 30 people have died in wildfires sweeping across Oregon, California and Washington.
They’re been raging for three weeks, burning millions of acres of land. Thousands of homes have been destroyed.
In Europe, too, we’ve seen the power of fire in the past week. This time, in Europe’s largest refugee camp on Lesbos, Greece.
According to a volunteer worker, only a “miracle” prevented loss of life.
The Moria camp was home to 12,500 refugees, including 4,000 children. The site was largely destroyed.
The camp has been described as a “a disaster waiting to happen” – packed with refugees from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.
The camp was makeshift and ramshackle, with no attempt at social distancing let alone fire safety.
For us at Wrightstyle, that adds up to an avoidable human tragedy because fire safety should never be an afterthought.
Making matters worse, over 30 refugees had tested positive for Covid-19 according to the UK-based NGO, Help Refugees.
Like the wildfires in the USA, the Greek fire was able to sweep unchecked through the camp.
Turning fire from foe to friend involves some form of containment and, if fire breaks out, a strategy to deal with it.
For us at Wrightstyle, that means trapping fire in one place so that it can’t escape to do wider damage.
Our advanced glazing systems, interior and exterior, are designed to do just that.
But the same principles of containment should also have been applied in Lesbos. The camp should not have been allowed to grow as it did.
Basic fire safety precautions should have been enforced because fire doesn’t just kill.
By burning our homes, whether a house or a tent, it also takes away our possessions and our memories.
The wildfires in the USA are a reminder of the destructive power of fire. In Greece, a reminder that, wherever people make their homes, fire safety must be a key priority.
And it shouldn’t matter whether those people are wealthy families or refugees from a warzone.