BC’s wildfire season started a bit later than normal — but it hasn’t taken long to heat up.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says there’s been more fires this year, but they are not as large as 2017.
“There are 22 evacuation alerts in the province and 17 evacuation orders. The largest one is at Telegraph Creek (in northwest BC) where about 250 individuals are under evacuation order and about 2,000 under evacuation alert.”
Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says despite the high number of fires, the Wildfire Service is having good success getting to fires early and getting them under control.
“The BC Wildfire Service motto of ‘hit it hard and hit it fast’ has been doing exactly that. We’ve had some really good success with our initial attack crews, getting to fires early and getting the under control.”
The current number of fires in BC is 462, far more than the 130 this time last year, which is one reason for the smoky conditions.
Kevin Skrepnek from the BC Wildfire Service says a cooler weather system arriving Friday will bring wind and possible showers, and possible relief from the smoke.
“When we have that transition Friday, that likely is going to cause the smoke to lift as well, but that could be fairly temporary depending on what the weather does.”
He says the system will bring a cold front that will bring increased winds, which will likely increase the chances of thunderstorm activity as well.
Skrepnek says there’s been 1,502 fires since April 1st.
“At this time last year, we had 939, so that kind of puts it in perspective. We’ve had more fires this year. They haven’t been as large as what we were dealing with in 2017.”
Skrepnek says 2,800 firefighters and other personnel are working on the fires including 100 from out of province.
The cost of fighting fires this year is 131 million dollars.