BC wildfires cause lumber prices to rise in Lethbridge

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The construction industry is beginning to feel the effects of the fires in British Columbia. Lumber is in short supply and costs are rising. Elaine Van Rootselaar has more on how that may affect home and business owners in Alberta.

The wildfires continue to burn in British Columbia and it’s more than just smoky air that’s affecting southern Alberta.

Tom Nixon, owner of Logic Lumber in Lethbridge, has noticed a shortened supply of lumber is driving up prices.

“It’s the worst I’ve seen in 45 years,” he said.

“Mills are running out of log decks, so there’s no trees to get the lumber out of and shipment is a big big problem… on the trucking end.”

MAP: Current location of BC wildfires across the province  

The wildfires have been raging in B.C. since April, destroying over 400,000 hectares of forest, closing roads, and logging companies have been forced to reassign logging equipment to firefighting  and prevention.

READ MORE: Canada, U.S. closing in on softwood lumber deal but foreign wood a sticking point

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Market analysts say it has interrupted especially the supply of structural wood panels, like plywood and oriented strand board (OSB), causing prices on those products to shoot up to more than 30 per cent higher than mid-2016 prices.

Russel Taylor at International Wood Products in Vancouver, says it’s one more blow to an already volatile market.

“These [U.S tariffs] are coming on and the market’s active and the fires hit and it’s just one more factor to the prices. Everything’s kind of happening all at once. I can tell you that the prices all over North America have gone up because of these fires.”

READ MORE: CANADA August 1 2017 10:26am 01:34 Trudeau promises to fight for Canadian lumber industry with U.S.

Bruce Galts at Galko Homes says the rise in prices shouldn’t affect homeowners immediately, but might slow down housing starts in Lethbridge.

“Some products are hard to get at all because they might have closed the plant… even trying to get trucks through the areas in B.C. has made it difficult.”

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Galts and others are looking into October for the market to stabilize but say it could be even longer.