BC declares state of emergency due to wildfires

Remigio Civitarese
Agosto 18, 2018

The B.C. government has declared a provincial state of emergency to support its response to wildfires that continue to burn across the province.

The state of emergency will be in effect for an initial 14 days.

British Columbia's public safety minister says he hopes the province's wildfire situation is not the new normal but the issue of climate change and its impact on forests must be taken into account.

The provincial wildfire service says more than 1,800 wildfires have been recorded since April 1, destroying about 3.800-square kilometres of brush.

"Public safety is always our first priority", said B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth in a statement, calling the declaration a "progressive step" as wildfire activity is expected to increase.

It is only the second time in more than a decade that it has been used, after a record fire season previous year that blackened vast tracts of forest and prompted record numbers of residents to evacuate.

On Monday (Aug. 13), B.C. requested the help of federal government resources.

The last provincial declaration of state of emergency before the 2017 wildfire season was issued in August 2003, to deal with wildfires. In 2017, the declaration lasted 10 weeks from July 7 to September 15. The forecast across B.C. calls for continued hot and dry conditions with risks of thunderstorms.

New evacuation orders and alerts in both the Nechako Valley and in the Bulkley Valley and Lakes District (BVLD) have been in place as of Tuesday evening, but due to limited lodging, evacuees are being forced to travel to the Northern capital.

Crews have responded to almost 1,800 wildfires since April 1.

566 wildfires burning in B.C.

Kevin Skrepnek of the Wildfire Service said more than 1,500 properties were on evacuation order at midday Wednesday and at least 10,000 were on an alert, with residents advised to be ready to leave on short notice.

More than two-thirds of them were caused by lightning.

There are more than 3,372 firefighters and contractors fighting fires all over the province, including hundreds of national and global personnel from Alberta, New Brunswick, Mexico and New Zealand.

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