WATCH: Expensive fire season expected to extend well into September
Even though summer is almost over, the wildfire season in B.C. is still in full swing.
With 152 fires still active in the province, authorities are bringing in 85 more out-of-province firefighters to give B.C. crews some time off.
Eighty firefighters arrived in Prince George from Ontario today.
The Ontario personnel may remain in B.C. for up to two weeks.
They will join more than 1,250 provincial staff, nearly 810 B.C. contractors, over 295 other out-of-province personnel, 74 personnel from Australia and two dispatchers from Alaska, who are on the front lines already.
This year’s fires continue to blow the budget. The Wildfire Management Branch has already spent four times its budget for the entire year.
Taxpayers have been paying three and a half million dollars a day to fight blazes throughout B.C.
The provincial government originally set aside $63 million to cover the cost of fighting wildfires.
To date, $242 million dollars have been spent, with hot, dry conditions still causing problems in some areas of the province.
That’s double what was spent last year, and the fire season isn’t over yet.
“To date, the ten-year average is about 1,600 fires, and we are at just over 1,300,” says Fire Information Officer George Maratos. “We are getting larger fires this year, which is pushing the hectare numbers up, but in terms of fire totals, we are actually below the season average.”
Although the fire danger rating in southeastern portions of the province has decreased in recent days, many areas of the province are still experiencing a “high” to “extreme” fire danger rating.
Half of the province’s fires are caused by human activity and with the long weekend approaching authorities are urging caution in the backcountry.
With files from Jas Johal