Wild­fire sea­son worst in six decades: of­fi­cial

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA - BY GEOR­DON OMAND

This year’s wild­fire sea­son has be­come British Co­lum­bia’s worst in six decades, and a pro­vin­cial spokesman says the ac­tion is far from over.

Kevin Skrep­nek of the BC Wild­fire Ser­vice said that 4,910 square kilo­me­tres of for­est, bush and grass­land have been torched, mak­ing 2017 the sec­ond worst year in recorded his­tory in terms of land de­stroyed.

“I think it’s im­por­tant for ev­ery­one to re­mem­ber we are only in early Au­gust at this point,” Skrep­nek told re­porters dur­ing a daily wild­fire con­fer­ence call. Au­gust is usu­ally one of the busiest months for fire, so this cur­rent sit­u­a­tion could get worse, he added.

B.C.’s most dev­as­tat­ing fire sea­son on record was in 1958, when flames con­sumed about 8,560 square kilo­me­tres, though Skrep­nek said it is too early to tell whether this year could sur­pass that level.

“I don’t want to spec­u­late at this point, given that we do still have all of Au­gust ahead of us and there’s po­ten­tial for ac­tiv­ity out there,” he said.

The prov­ince be­gan track­ing fire sta­tis­tics in 1950.

There were 126 fires burn­ing across B.C. on Thurs­day, eight of them newly sparked Wed­nes­day.

The cost of fire­fight­ing ef­forts has topped $204 mil­lion, which Skrep­nek said is rel­a­tively low com­pared with pre­vi­ous years be­cause of the late start to the 2017 sea­son.

The BC Wild­fire Ser­vice is also reach­ing fur­ther afield for re­in­force­ments, with de­tails still be­ing worked out to bring in fire­fight­ing crews from Aus­tralia and New Zealand, pos­si­bly as early as next week. The Cana­dian Forces an­nounced it would be­gin ro­tat­ing out 200 sol­diers who have been help­ing with fire­fight­ing ef­forts in the In­te­rior.

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