B.C. is dealing with back-to-back record wildfire seasons, with fires across the province now earning 2018 its own dubious distinction.
More than 945,000 hectares have burned across B.C. since April 1 this year, the second-most in a single season since the province began keeping records in 1950.
The number two position had previously been held by 1958’s wildfire season, when 855,968 hectares burned.
What’s more, that 1958 season had previously held the top slot for more than a half-century, until it was displaced by the record-breaking 2017 season in which more than 1.2 million hectares burned.
With weeks to go in this year’s season, there’s no guarantee that 2018 won’t top last year’s numbers.
BC Wildfire Service fire information officer Kyla Fraser said while the fires this year haven’t reached the massive size of some of those from 2017, they’ve been more geographically dispersed.
“This year has been quite an interesting year just for the fact that all six of our regional fire centres are very busy, so in terms of resourcing that has definitely been a bit of challenge just because the fires are so spread out,” she said.
The service was tracking close to 60 “wildfires of note” — fires large enough or close enough to communities to be of concern — on Sunday, in every corner of B.C.
While the fires have burned nearly as much area as those of 2017, many of them have been more remote, and overall they have been less destructive.
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At least two-dozen structures have been lost in the Telegraph Creek area and there are reports of destroyed properties in the Francois Lake area.
In 2017, wildfires destroyed more than 300 buildings, with the massive Elephant Hill wildfire hitting the Ashcroft area and nearby First Nations particularly hard.
Fewer people have also been displaced by this year’s wildfires.
At the peak of the 2017 season more than 65,000 people were forced from their homes, including about 10,000 from a massive evacuation in Williams Lake.
As of Friday there were about 4,400 people under evacuation order in B.C.
Since the beginning of the season 5,396 people had been forced from their homes.
As of Saturday, B.C.’s 2018 wildfires had cost the province about $310 million to fight, slightly more than half of last year’s total of $564 million.
That number is closing in on the second-most expensive year in B.C. history, 2015-2016, when the province spent $380 million.