Wildfire season worst in six decades: official
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.