B.C. wildfires have now scorched an area larger than PEI
We’re getting a new sense of how much of B.C. the ongoing wildfires have scorched, and it’s big.
The BC Wildfire Service says since April 1, B.C. has seen 892 wildfires, which have burned 591,000 hectares.
“To put that number into some context, that is now larger than the entire province of Prince Edward Island,” said Chief Wildfire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek.
The cost of fighting those fires has reached $230 million.
Around the province, 127 fires continue to burn, including the monster Elephant Hill fire which is more than 110,000 hectares large and just 30 per cent contained.
Skrepnek said crews have stayed focused on bolstering efforts on the fire’s west flank, closest to the nearby community of Clinton.
And the fight appears far from over.
Skrepnek said the weather situation in the coming days is not favourable, with hot and dry conditions expected to persist, along with a rising risk in the next three days for thunderstorms and dry lightning across southern B.C.
“We’re seeing some potential by the end of next week for a potential cooling trend, in the area of the 13th, 14th which is still far away,” Skrepnek said.
“So we’re keeping our eye on that as far as any potential relief to the situation, but until then we are expecting and preparing for continued hot and dry conditions, challenging conditions.”
WATCH: Full coverage of the B.C. wildfires
About 3,800 firefighters and support staff are working the province’s wildfires, including more than 600 from out of province.
The BC Wildfire Service says another 400 firefighting staff from New Zealand, Australia, Mexico and the United States are also arriving over the next week to assist with the battle.
“Given the unprecedented nature of the B.C. wildfires, we appreciate the assistance our international partners are able to provide,” Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said in a statement.
Chris Duffy with Emergency Management BC said on Sunday that almost 7,000 people remain displaced from their homes by the flames, while another 26,000 have been warned that they may need to leave at a moment’s notice.
Some residents of communities put on evacuation orders and alerts have questioned the process, criticizing how much information is being released via social media versus other methods.
Last week, the province banned the use of off-road vehicles in much of southern B.C., saying the prohibition was necessary to stop sparks or hot tail pipes from igniting extremely dry fuel in the forests and grasslands.
Campfire bans have also been in effect throughout much of the province for several weeks.
Yesterday, a Williams Lake man was fined $1,000 for lighting off fireworks despite the ban, allegedly to celebrate his return home from a wildfire-caused evacuation order.
— With files from Gemma Karstens-Smith, the Canadian Press
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