B.C. wildfires improve since state of emergency declared

Alkali Lake fire. Image courtesy of BC Wildfire Service.

Updated August 20, 2018

Since a state of emergency was declared by the government of British Columbia on August 15, progress is being made containing wildfires burning throughout the province.

“Although we are facing many challenges all over the province, we have made good progress since the state of emergency was declared,” said Kyla Fraser, fire information officer from B.C. Wildfire Service.

The state of emergency was put in place to ensure a coordinated response from the government to ensure public safety and make use of all emergency assets.

Even with progress being made, firefighters are not expected to receive any help from the coming weather.

“Weather forecasts look quite dry this coming week, with a possibility of precipitation in the eastern part of the province. But with that precipitation could also come increased wind and the possibility of lighting,” said Fraser.

With 546 wildfires burning in the province, and 54 of them being “of note”, there has been a considerable reduction in air quality, notably in the southern part of the province around Metro Vancouver, Nanimo, and all Okanagan.

The B.C. government advises that those in smoke-dense areas should avoid physical exertion, stay hydrated throughout the day and try to stay in smoke-free indoor spaces like residences and shopping centres.

Smokey conditions have been hindering spotting new fires, landed some air operations by fire crews and have forced some commercial flights to be cancelled.

The largest fire, known as the Shovel Lake fire, has already burned 84, 793 hectares of land according the B.C. Wildfire Service. Fire crews are carrying out burn off operations, planned ignitions supported by bucketing helicopters and water tankers with flame retardant, to remove fuel in the fire’s path.

The B.C. government has issued 31 evacuation orders across the province which are currently affecting 2,416 properties. All issued evacuation notices and orders are still in place, as is the provincial state of emergency.

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