HUMOUR: Ash’s Squirtle called out of retirement to help battle BC wildfires

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Photo illustration by Phoebe Lim

With over 200 wildfires (as of print time) currently blazing across British Columbia, the provincial government has called Ash Ketchum’s Squirtle out of retirement to help combat the growing numbers.

A once prominent member of the Pokémon trainer’s roster, Ash’s Squirtle was last used in a trainer battle over 14 years ago. The Squirtle will first be deployed to Puntzi Lake, and then to near Bobtail Mountain Provincial Park, where two of the largest fires in the province are currently raging.

“In 2015, we’ve already doubled the number of forest fires we had in all of 2014,” Forests Minister Steve Thomson said in an announcement this week. “Ash’s Squirtle isn’t a last resort, but we are certainly exploring all of our options in order to get these fires under control. “

Squirtles are small water-type Pokémon that closely resemble turtles, but are substantively larger in size. In particular, Ash’s Squirtle was used to help control the devastating Garnet fire in 1994 and the Salmon Arm fire in 1998 — after which Ash’s Squirtle grew to level 13 and learned the special move Bubble.

News of Ash’s Squirtle returning to the fold brought nostalgia-induced praised from BC Wildfire Management spokesperson Kendrick Mackenzie, suggesting that it might be the return to form that BC needs: “Nothing against the province’s new methods of fighting forest fires. I’m sure they’re perfectly adequate, but you just can’t compare them with the original 150 methods.”

Since the beginning of April, the provincial government has spent about $108-million on controlling and extinguishing the fires ripping across the province. According to statistics from the BC Wildfire Service, lightning is still the number one cause of forest fires, while people-caused fires hovered around the 44 per cent mark last year. The third starter of fires in BC, trailing by a large margin, is from wild Charizards carelessly wagging their flame-tipped tails around in dry forested areas while hot-headedly ignoring their trainer’s commands.

BC Wildfire Service is reminding residents to never leave fire Pokémon unattended and to always make sure to keep at least one water Pokémon in your party, partly for safety reasons but also because that’s what any half-decent trainer should already be doing.

When asked how he felt about leaving retirement to help deal with BC’s forest fires, Ash’s Squirtle was humble yet proud, saying that he was more than happy to be helping the province and that, “Squirtle, Squirtle! Squirtle!”