B.C. wildfires: Province to boost aviation, ground firefighting fleets

Click to play video: 'Wildfire Season Outlook'
Wildfire Season Outlook
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With a potentially dry summer ahead, British Columbia says it’s investing more money in battling wildfires.

On Wednesday, the province announced it will be expanding its firefighting aviation and ground fleets, as well as providing more equipment for ground crews.

Currently, snowpack levels across the province aren’t close to where they should be, leading to concerns of a destructive wildfire season.

Of course, a very wet spring and early summer could alleviate those fears, but the province isn’t taking a chance.

Click to play video: 'Alberta Wildfire warns of extreme fire risk heading into spring 2024'
Alberta Wildfire warns of extreme fire risk heading into spring 2024

“The impacts of climate change are arriving faster than predicted, and alongside the task force, we are supporting the wildland firefighters who work tirelessly to protect us under the most extreme conditions,” said forests minister Bruce Ralston

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“By increasing our resources on the ground and in the air, we will have a greater ability to respond to wildfires when and where they happen.”

Last summer was the worst, destruction-wise, in B.C. history.

According to the BC Wildfire Service, 2,245 wildfires burned more than 2.84 million hectares (7 million acres) of forest and land, and tens of thousands of people were forced to evacuate.

The province was also under a state of emergency for 28 days, along with 208 evacuation orders being issued that affected 24,000 properties and around 48,000 people.

The total cost to fight those fires is estimated at $817 million.

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NT fire evacuee wants territorial government to ‘restore public confidence’

The province says its expansion includes $16 million in upgrades to on-ground firefighting equipment and fire camp infrastructure, “which are critical to the safety and well-being of wildland firefighters.”

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Additional investments include two mass water-delivery systems that can be used for fire suppression and flood operations.

Also getting upgrades: The aviation fleet, which will see more plan and helicopter agreements, “with a focus on a diverse and modern set of aircraft suited for B.C.’s vast and challenging terrain.”

Also, BC Wildfire will continue its ongoing trial of using night-vision technology.

“Wildfire-fighting aircraft take on a number of roles during the fire season,” said the province, “such as water and retardant delivery, crew and personnel transportation, gear delivery, logistics support, fire patrols and infrared scanning.”

More information about last year’s wildfire season statistics is available online.

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Parks Canada prepares for wildfire season amidst dismal snowpack

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