Wide state of emergency declared as province battles nearly 600 wildfires

Evarado Alatorre
Agosto 16, 2018

"Taking this step will further ensure we can protect the public, property and infrastructure, and assist with firefighting efforts", he said. The declaration ensures that the delivery of federal, provincial, and local resources is co-ordinated to ensure that the public is protected.

Tessa Vikander is a Vancouver-based reporter covering identity and inequality.

As of Tuesday, there were 566 wildfires burning in B.C. Over 3,000 people were forced from their homes, under 29 evacuation orders.

With the extended weather forecast calling for continued hot and dry conditions, as well as a risk of thunderstorms in some areas, things could get worse before they get better.

Kevin Skrepnek of the Wildfire Service said more than 1,500 properties were on evacuation order at midday Wednesday and at least 10,000 were on an alert, with residents advised to be ready to leave on short notice.

The state of emergency will remain in effect for 14 days, but can be extended or rescinded as necessary.

The last provincial declaration of state of emergency before the 2017 wildfire season was issued in August 2003, to deal with wildfires.

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Wildfires have burned close to 400,000 hectares of British Columbia so far this year, making 2018 the fourth-largest fire season since 1950, data from the BC Wildfire service shows.

There are more than 40 wildfires burning on the north Island that were sparked by lightning over the weekend.

"The state of emergency gives agencies... the authority to take every action necessary to fight wildfires and protect people and communities", he added.

There are now more than 3,372 firefighters and contractors engaged in fighting fires. That includes 1,427 B.C. contract personnel and 436 out-of-province personnel, from places like Alberta, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Parks Canada, Australia, Mexico and New Zealand.

The last time B.C. had declared a state of emergency prior to previous year was August 2003 to deal with wildfires.

Crews battling the Nanaimo Lakes wildfire.

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