British Columbia Declares State Of Emergency As Nearly 140 Wildfires Ravage Province

by Antonio Miles July 11, 2017, 0:42
British Columbia Declares State Of Emergency As Nearly 140 Wildfires Ravage Province

"There should be three Griffin helicopters into Kelowna today and there should be some larger fixed-wing aircraft in the next few days".

"Given the current wildfire situation and the expected increase in wildfire activity, the province is taking this extraordinary measure of declaring a provincial state of emergency", British Columbia's transportation and emergency management chief, Todd Stone said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, the fire was reported as 15 hectares in size but was later upgraded to 20 hectares, making it the third-largest wildfire now burning in the province.

Here are some numbers on the wildfires that are burning across British Columbia:​.

The wildfire west of 100 Mile House has grown to 1,230 hectares in size, prompting an evacuation alert for 1,800 homes in the area.

The last provincial declaration of state of emergency was issued in August 2003, also in response to wildfires. Currently, the whole southern two-thirds of B.C., including coastal areas, have very high or extreme ratings.

Two evacuee emergency centers were opened, one at the 100 Mile House Rink and the other at the Ramada Inn in Williams Lake. "But those numbers are very fluid". Officials say that no one is unaccounted for at this time. Skrepnek said the province had spent $46 million fighting wildfires this year as of end-of-day Friday.

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Local fire departments and authorities are assisting BC Wildfire Service with this fire as well.

But for the most part, Friday avoided worst-case scenarios: Skepnek said there didn't appear to be any injuries stemming from the wildfires, and none of the blazes moved into the centre of communities. Though most of the fires were the result of lightning strikes, CBC News has said that some of the blazes were caused by people.

"By the time we got everyone into the cars and we were getting out of the reserve, coming around the bend, (the fire) was already past the house".

She adds that the fire is labelled as zero per cent contained that they are not confident suppression/containment lines will hold. "It does cause a lot of visibility issues but it also has a bit of a calming effect".

A "province-wide rain event" is the best case scenario, but Skrepnek said it is "certainly not looking optimistic".

A forest ecology expert believes British Columbia needs to look more closely at reducing fuel in the province's forests, to make it easier to fight wildfires like the ones raging now.


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