A firefighter uses a torch to set fire to brush during a prescribed burn to help prevent the Finlay Creek wildfire from spreading near Peachland, B.C., on Thursday September 7, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. loses more than one million hectares to wildfires

There have been 1,249 fires that have burned through roughly 1,173,886 hectares in B.C.

As cooler temperatures and calmer weather moves in to the province, the B.C. Wildfire situation is getting less critical.

The BC Wildfire Service states that the provincial State of Emergency is expected to expire on Friday.

The State of Emergency was extended on Sept. 1 until this Friday, Sept. 15. The last extension was the fourth time since it was initially enacted on July 19.

Related: Provincial state of emergency declared

“We are seeing a bit of downturn in some parts of the province which is great, but it is certainly not time for people to get complacent,” said Kevin Skrepnek, the Province’s Chief Wildfire Information officer.

“It terms of the dryness we are seeing in the deeper levels of the forest floor, it is still unprecedented. There is still potential out there and we don’t want people getting complacent just because we are seeing activity mellow out here.”

There are currently 155 fires burning across the province with four new ones sparked on Tuesday.

A total of 3,359 firefighters and support staff are on the ground in B.C., this includes about 300 out-of-province personnel and 1,500 contractors. They are supported by more than 100 aircraft.

Since April 1, 2017, 1,249 fires have burned through roughly 1,173,886 hectares. This has cost the BC Wildfire Service $510.2 million and that figure doesn’t include costs accrued by all the other agencies helping out this summer.

One of those agencies is the Canadian Armed Forces.

Emergency Management BC executive director Chris Duffy said Canadian military members will be phased out in the coming week as the fire activity continues to decrease across the province.

“Given that declining fire behaviour, coupled with the return to a more seasonal weather pattern, we came to a consensus to see those extraordinary assistance levels start to wind down a bit,” said Duffy.

“I want to thank the Federal Government and the Armed Forces for its sustained effort and professionalism over a long, protracted campaign. Their assistance was invaluable to B.C. Thank you.”

As of Wednesday morning, there were 12 evacuation orders in place in B.C. for 3,202 people, and another 30 evacuation alerts that could potentially affect 7,250 residents.

Skrepnek adds that both the campfire ban and off-road vehicle ban remain in place.

Related: Off-road vehicle ban carries on into hunting season

Fires of note

  • The Lamb Creek fire southwest of Cranbrook near Moyie Lake is 1,978 hectares – “I visited the fire yesterday, it is definitely still active and creating quite a bit of smoke, but there is good progress on the ground. We have just under 170 personnel on there as we speak,” said Skrepnek.
  • Linklater Creek wildfire, eight Kilometres southwest of Newgate, is 927 hectares
  • Diamond Creek fire in B.C.’s southern interior near the US border is currently 9,500 hectares in size on the Canadian side – “Still a large effort here, more than 400 personnel working on that fire. Some activity ahead but we are seeing cooler temperatures up there, higher humidity. It is much less volatile,” added Skrepnek.
  • Plateau fire in the North Chilcotin is 521,648 hectares
  • Elephant Hill fire near Cache Creek is 192,725 hectares and 50 per cent contained
  • The Hanceville-Riske Creek wildfire is 239,673 hectares and is considered 100 per cent contained

Related: Finlay Creek wildfire now fully contained

To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1-800-663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cell phone.


 

@carmenweld
carmen.weld@bpdigital.ca

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