Satirical event asks Americans to use box fans to blow wildfire smoke back to Canada
A helicopter being used to fight a smaller fire nearby flies past a large plume of smoke rising from a wildfire near Fraser Lake, B.C., on Wednesday August 15, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Jackie Dunham, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, August 22, 2018 9:26AM EDT
In addition to an escalating trade war with the U.S., Canadians may be on the cusp of another mounting dispute with their southern neighbours – a wind war.
Well, not really.
A group of friends in Spokane, Wash. have managed to dupe many Americans and Canadians alike, and even a few news stations, with their tongue-in-cheek Facebook event calling on their fellow “Spokanites” to put box fans on their roofs to “blow Spokane’s smoke away to Canada.”
The satirical event, scheduled for Friday at noon, asked the approximately 550,000 residents of the Spokane metropolitan area to place at least five box fans on each of their roofs and aim them north in order to blow the heavy smoke coming from British Columbia’s raging wildfires back towards the province.
“To get rid of this smoke, we have to work together as a community,” the event’s description reads. “After much deliberation and mathematical calculation, we have figured that it is absolutely possible for us to blow this smoke away with high powered fans.”
Caleb Moon, one of the event’s organizers, said he and his friends came up with the idea while they were stuck indoors on Sunday because of the oppressive smoke outside. He said they joked about placing a fan outside beside their air conditioning unit to blow the smoke away from it so they could turn it on and the idea snowballed from there.
“It was just a silly idea so we decided to make this whole Facebook event for our friends not thinking that it would actually take off and people would believe it,” he told CTVNews.ca on Wednesday. “It’s been crazy the past couple of days.”
Moon said they posted the event on Sunday evening and by Monday morning, there had more than 2,000 responses.
As of Wednesday morning, the Facebook event had more than 1,500 attendees and more than 2,600 interested respondents.
“Turn your fans on to the highest setting, and aim them toward northeastern Canada,” the event page said. “Team work makes the dream work. Let’s do this, Spokanites. Let’s send this smoke right back to those Canucks!”
More than 560 wildfires continue to burn across B.C., which have prompted numerous air quality alerts and more than 2,700 evacuations.
Spokane is located approximately 200 kilometres south of the Canadian border and has been dealing with smoky air conditions that have wafted in from wildfires in the north and from the west in California.
Reactions on all sides
The event has provoked reactions on both sides of the border with some Canadians taking offence at the idea without realizing it was in jest.
“Karma will come around to them. Not only is this a ridiculous idea...they have now gone out and said ‘we don’t care about anyone else’ and during our natural disaster, they are going to try to organize a campaign to purposely do us more harm? Disgusting,” one comment on the event page read.
“Go ahead ‘Merica... point them fans this way,” another post said.
“We have enough already. Thanks,” someone else wrote.
The joke was so successful that two organizers in Canada even created their own Facebook event to counter the Spokane one with the title “Blow Spokane smoke back to Spokane.” As of Wednesday morning, however, the group only had 73 attendees and 93 interested respondents.
There were Americans as well who appeared to support the plan and voiced their enthusiasm for it.
“I'm just wondering if this should be like an annual event? A Spokane Holiday!” one commenter wrote.
“Blow it all to Canada they have free health care,” another supporter wrote.
Following a number of reports about the Facebook event in local media in the U.S. and in Canada, Moon said he decided to add a disclaimer to the description page.
“WARNING… STRONG SATIRE BELOW,” he wrote.
Moon said he was receiving a lot of angry messages in his personal inbox from people who didn’t understand the joke so he thought they needed to make it more clear. He said once he and his friends realized how much publicity the event was attracting, they decided to post links on the page to food banks and an animal shelters in B.C. to help the victims of the wildfires.
“We just figured with all of this attention it’s getting we might as well try to make something positive out of it,” he said.