British Columbia declares state of emergency over wildfires

The province says 566 wildfires are burning across B.C.

by VICE News
Aug 15 2018, 5:02pm

Cover image by Pondosy Bay Wilderness Resort.

British Columbia declared a state of emergency on Wednesday over the number of raging wildfires, which has climbed to 566 as evacuations continue to fan out across the province.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth made the declaration, which will ensure a coordinated response by federal, provincial and local authorities.

"Public safety is always our first priority and, as wildfire activity is expected to increase, this is a progressive step in our wildfire response to make sure British Columbia has access to any and all resources necessary," Farnworth said in a statement. "Taking this step will further ensure we can protect the public, property and infrastructure, and assist with firefighting efforts," he said.

So far, 29 evacuations orders have been issued affecting more than 3,000 people. An additional 48 evacuation alerts have also been issued, impacting approximately 18,720 people.

Some 3,372 firefighters and contractors are actively fighting the blaze, hailing from across the country, and as far afield as Australia, Mexico and New Zealand. In some places, the smoke is so thick, it is confusing the sensors on streetlights that flicker on.

The BC government lists 48 "fires of note" which are highly visible or which pose a potential threat to public safety. The largest fire in the province is the Shovel Lake wildfire, about 200 kilometres west of Prince George, which spans more than 50,000 hectares.

California has also been battling unprecedented wildfires this year, which have claimed the lives of eight civilians so far, and six firefighters.

Cover image by Pondosy Bay Wilderness Resort

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