B.C.’s is ending the provincial state of emergency, Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma announced Thursday (Sept. 14).
On advice from wildfire and emergency management officials, the province said the state of emergency would be expiring at the end of the day. However, the wildfire season isn’t yet over.
As of Thursday, 370 people are on evacuation order and more than 18,000 remain on alert. Conditions continue to be challenging in northern B.C., with 125 active fires in the Prince George Fire Centre.
“While the provincial state of emergency is no longer required, the wildfire season is not over. Many communities still have local states of emergency in place and the expiration of the provincial state of emergency does not impact wildfire-fighting resources or our ability to continue to provide emergency supports to communities,” explained Ma.
There are still 600 out-of-province wildfire personnel currently helping with wildfire response, and the province is continuing to coordinate additional resources through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre.
The province first declared the state of emergency on Aug. 18. At the time, roughly 5,000 properties provincewide were on evacuation order, mostly in the Okanagan, Cariboo and Boston Bar areas.
During the state of emergency, the province enacted an order Aug. 19 to make accommodation available for evacuees in several communities in the central Interior and the southeast. B.C. banned non-essential travel to six Okanagan communities. The ban was lifted Aug. 25.
Ma extended the state of emergency once on Aug. 31 for an additional two weeks when nearly 70,000 people were on evacuation order or alert.
This year has been the worst wildfire season on record, with more than 2.3 million hectares burned.
Meanwhile, the province is issuing a local state of emergency for the Stikine region to maintain an evacuation order in the area. It’s in effect for 14 days, and can be extended or rescinded as necessary.
B.C. issued an evacuation order for the area on Aug. 26 on the recommendation of BC Wildfire Service due to the Little Blue River wildfire.
The Little Blue River wildfire was first discovered July 6 and is an estimated 60,064.12 hectares as of Sept. 14.
The area extending north from Wheeler Lake to Blue River Bridge, south of Wheeler Lake to the Beaver Dam Rest Area, west of Highway 37, and to the east of Highway 37 (to two kilometres east of the confluence of the Blue and Dease rivers) remains under evacuation order. However, no primary residences have been identified within in the area.
It’s B.C.’s only unincorporated region, so the province is responsible for implementing evacuation orders for the region