Provincial state of emergency declared over B.C. wildfires
The B.C. government has declared a state of emergency as the province’s wildfire situation continues to worsen. There are currently 566 wildfires burning across B.C., prompting 29 evacuation orders that have forced about 3,050 people to flee from their homes. Around 18,700 more residents are under evacuation alert, and officials expect the situation will get worse before it gets better. But the province-wide state of emergency will help ensure “any and all resources necessary” are delivered to the areas that need them, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said. “Public safety is always our first priority and, as wildfire activity is expected to increase, this is a progressive step in our wildfire response,” Farnworth said in a statement. “Taking this step will further ensure we can protect the public, property and infrastructure, and assist with firefighting efforts.” Those resources will be coming from the local, provincial and federal levels. The Canadian government recently accepted B.C.’s request for help, and federal personnel and resources are expected to arrive in the coming days. There are already more than 3,370 firefighters and contractors battling wildfires across every region of the province, including 436 people who flew in from other parts of the country and even overseas. Some of the personnel came from as far as New Zealand and Australia. Ottawa has also approved the deployment of nearly 200 members of the Armed Forces to help in the effort. “Given the unpredictable behaviour of wildfires and the number of significant wildfires in all areas of the province, we’re bringing in the additional resources we need to keep people and communities as safe as possible,” Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said in a statement. “We’re asking British Columbians to do their part and follow burning bans and restrictions to prevent human-caused fires.” The B.C. government said the state of emergency has been set to last 14 days, but can be expanded or cancelled at any time. During last year’s destructive wildfire season, the state of emergency lasted for 10 weeks. The provincial wildfire service says more than 1,800 wildfires have been recorded since April 1, destroying about 3.800-square-kilometres of brush.