Environment

B.C. declares state of emergency as nearly 600 wildfires burn across the province, Canada


British Columbia has declared a province-wide state of emergency on August 15, 2018, due to raging wildfires. Although 2018 is already the 4th worst season on record, it’s still far behind record-breaking 2017. Previous declarations were in 1996, 2003 and 2017, which lasted 10 weeks.

As of early August 15, there were 566 wildfires burning in the province. There are 29 active evacuation orders impacting around 2 050 people and 48 evacuation centers affecting 18 720 people.

Over 3 300 firefighters and contractors are involved in fighting the fires, including 1 427 B.C. contract personnel and 436 out-of-province personnel from Alberta, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Parks Canada, Australia, Mexico and New Zealand. 

So far this year, more than 380 000 ha (939 000 acres) have been burned by wildfires, making it the fourth worst season on record.

The worst B.C. season so far was 2017 with 1 216 083 ha (3 005 006 acres), followed by 1958 with 855 968 ha (2 115 142 acres), 1961 with 483 097 ha (1 193 758 acres), 2018 with 381 443 ha (942 566 acres) so far and 2014 with 369 168 ha (912 233 acres).

Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth said there are some very significant differences when compared with the record-setting 2017.

“This year we are dealing with fires all over the province, whereas last year they were concentrated in a number of areas, the Cariboo for example.”

The fires are also not as large or as close to communities as last year, he said.

Since April 1, 2018, B.C. crews have responded to nearly 1 800 wildfires. At least 400 of those are believed to be caused by humans.

Featured image credit: B.C. Government


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