August 4, 2017 1:31 pm
Updated: August 4, 2017 6:23 pm

B.C. wildfire status Friday: Worst wildfire season in B.C. since 1958

The weather and particularly the smoke continues to be an issue for firefighters on the front lines. Global BC's Nadia Stewart is near Clinton, B.C. getting a closer look at the work ground crews are doing to battle the massive elephant hill fire.

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It’s not a record anyone wants to break.

This year’s B.C. wildfire season is now the worst since 1958.

Chief fire information officer, Kevin Skrepnek, says 4,910 square kilometres have been burned across the province to date.

The worst wildfire season in B.C.’s history, in 1958, scorched 8,560 square kilometres. Skrepnek says it is too early to tell if this year’s wildfire activity could break that record.

Record keeping began in 1950.

The provincial state of emergency has now been extended until Aug. 18.

MAP: Where the wildfires are burning around B.C.

There are currently 126 fires burning across B.C., with 861 fires sparking since the season began on April 1.

The season has so far cost the province $204 million.

“August is typically one of our busiest months,” said Skrepnek. “This current situation could get worse before it gets better.”

It’s been more than three weeks since the province declared a state of emergency due to the fires. That state of emergency has now been extended to Aug. 18.

More firefighters and wildfire personnel are arriving to help the 3,800 firefighters and workers already here.

A group of firefighters from Mexico are set to arrive in the province today. This is the first time Mexican personnel have assisted the province.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand is also deploying firefighters and incident management specialists to the province.

Eighty people from Fire and Emergency NZ, the Department of Conservation, and Forestry contractors will fly to Vancouver from Auckland between Saturday and Monday, to start what is expected to be a five-week deployment here.

Twenty-seven firefighters from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan are part of crews that arrived from Ontario last weekend.

WATCH: Thu, Aug 3: Some residents living near Clinton say their homes are being jeopardized because of a firefighters’ back burn that went wrong. Nadia Stewart reports

An air quality advisory remains in effect for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley due to the smoke from the wildfires.

And in areas like Kamloops, the air quality is so far off the charts, it’s currently 49 out of 10.

Credit: Jon-Bethany Kalf

Several parks and trails in Delta have also been closed due to the increased fire danger.

READ MORE: Delta closes 5 parks due to extreme fire danger

In Cultus Lake Park, the trail system will be closed and the entrances to the trails will be barricaded or roped off due to the extreme weather conditions that the region is experiencing. The areas to be closed include access to the trailhead off Lakeshore Drive to Parmenter Road, the trail access off 44 Lakeshore Drive, all trailhead accesses off Sunnyside Boulevard into the forested area, the trail access behind Funland, and the trail access off the end of Mountain View Road.  Furthermore, the large walkway access at the end of Park Drive that leads to Columbia Valley Highway will be closed as well.

In Richmond, the following parks and trails have also been closed until further notice:

  • Shell Road Trail
  • Horseshoe Slough Trail
  • Bridgeport Trail
  • Queens Canal Trails
  • Nature Park West park, boardwalks and trails
  •  Nature Park East park, boardwalk and trails

WATCH: Thu, Aug 3: Julia Foy reports on how record-setting hot and dry conditions are affecting our summer.

Off-road vehicles restricted in backcountry

 Effective at noon on Friday, Aug. 4, off-road vehicles for recreational purposes are prohibited throughout the Cariboo Fire Centre, Kamloops Fire Centre and Southeast Fire Centre. In addition, all on-highway vehicles must remain on defined road surfaces.

This step is being taken to help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety.

While jeeps, trucks and other on-highway vehicles are permitted on designated roads, they are not allowed off-road.

The prohibition of off-road vehicles and on-highway vehicles does not apply to private lands or national parks. It also does not apply to emergency responders or to agriculture or commercial/ industrial users who operate vehicles for farming, emergency response or business purposes.

A map of the affected areas is available online.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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