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EDITORIAL: Wildfire threat is not yet over

This is by far the worst fire season ever recorded in British Columbia
A firefighter works on the Peacock Creek wildfire, south of Smithers, B.C. (Credit: BC Wildfire Service)

Temperatures are starting to cool and the air quality in much of the British Columbia Interior is significantly better than it was a few weeks ago, but the province’s fire season is far from over.

To date, more than 2,000 fires have been recorded during the province’s fire season, which began on April 1. The amount of land burned is now in excess of 2.25 million hectares. Some of the fires have been in remote parts of the province, but others have come close to populated urban areas.

This is by far the worst fire season ever recorded in British Columbia.

Normally, the wildfire risk decreases in September. However, there are still reports of new wildfires and crews are continuing to work on existing wildfires. Some of the fires now burning are classified as out of control.

A provincial state of emergency remains in place. At present, 4,200 people are on evacuation order and close to 65,000 are on evacuation alert.

So far this year, around three-quarters of the province’s wildfires have been the result of lightning strikes, while fewer than one-quarter are human-caused, with 129 listed as unknown causes.

In addition, the wildfire season comes at a time when most of British Columbia is experiencing significant drought conditions. The majority of the province is in Drought Level 4 and Drought Level 5, the most severe of the six drought levels.

A combination of conditions this year have resulted in the fire season we have experienced.

Because wildfires are continuing to burn, and because of the reports of new wildfires, it is important to continue to be prepared for potential wildfires. This includes having preparations in place in case of a new evacuation alert or evacuation order.

The wildfire season will come to an end and the risk of wildfires will subside. For now, however, planning and preparation are needed in order to respond if another wildfire poses a threat to a populated area.

— Black Press

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