British Columbia declares state of emergency over…


In support of the response to the ongoing wildfire situation in B.C., the province has declared a state of emergency.

As of August 14, there were 566 wildfires burning in B.C., with 29 evacuation orders affecting approximately 3,050 people and 1,521 properties, according to the B.C. government.

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, made the declaration on Wednesday based on the recommendation from B.C.'s wildfire and emergency management officials. An evacuation alert means that residents could be ordered to evacuate at a moment's notice.

During the 2017 wildfire season, B.C. was in a provincial state of emergency for 10 weeks, from July 7 to September 15.

But Farnworth noted there are some very significant differences when compared with the record setting 1.2 million hectares burned previous year.

The federal government has approved the deployment of about 200 members of the armed forces to help with firefighting efforts.

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The fires are also not as large or as close to communities as previous year, he said. Previous declarations were in 1996, 2003 and 2017, which lasted 10 weeks.

The South Stikine River fire burns in an Aug.6, 2018 handout photo provided by the BC Wildfire Service. That number is likely to increase as the extended weather forecast calls for continued hot and dry conditions, with the risk of thunderstorms in some parts of the province.

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.

"It's across the entire province unlike a year ago where it was concentrated", he explained. There were also 48 evacuation alerts, affecting almost 19,000 people.

Right now, there are more than 3,372 firefighters and contractors on the frontlines. This includes 1,427 B.C. contract personnel, as well as 436 out-of-province personnel from Alberta, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Parks Canada, Australia, Mexico and New Zealand.

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