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B.C. wildfires: Premier says travellers should check with communities before visiting

Click to play video: 'B.C. wildfire: State of emergency now in effect as thousands evacuate' B.C. wildfire: State of emergency now in effect as thousands evacuate
A provincial state of emergency is now in effect and thousands are under evacuation orders as out -of-control wildfires burn in the Interior. Emily Lazatin has the latest on the fire-fight and questions about why the province didn't declare a state of emergency sooner – Jul 21, 2021

Premier John Horgan says British Columbians travelling over the next few months should touch base with hotels and local businesses before coming to the community.

This comes as concerns grow over evacuations due to ongoing wildfires across the province.

Taking questions from reporters from the fire centre in Castlegar on Wednesday morning, Horgan said travellers should check in to see what is going on in the community they plan to visit prior to departure.

Click to play video: 'Assessing the wildfire threat as B.C. declares a state of emergency' Assessing the wildfire threat as B.C. declares a state of emergency
Assessing the wildfire threat as B.C. declares a state of emergency – Jul 21, 2021

“That’s prudent behaviour by anyone at this point in time,” Horgan said.

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“We do have significant fires throughout the southeast moving north to Kamloops and then into the Interior so if you’re going to be travelling to those areas check with the local providers, check with whoever you booked accommodation with, and see what advice they giving you.”

Horgan also urged British Columbians to stay out of the back country.

The B.C. government declared a state of emergency connected to the ongoing fires.

Horgan says his government received guidance on Tuesday to call the state of emergency after the forecast in parts of the province showed for shifts in winds and weather, raising concerns that property evacuations could rise to a level not yet seen this fire season.

Click to play video: 'How residents, tourists in B.C.’s wine country are coping with wildfires' How residents, tourists in B.C.’s wine country are coping with wildfires
How residents, tourists in B.C.’s wine country are coping with wildfires – Jul 21, 2021

The BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management BC had not recommended a state of emergency connected to the fires until late on Monday after the change in weather.

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States of emergency connected to wildfires have been declared in 2003, 2017, 2018 and 2021.

“We have a bad stretch of weather ahead of us, we have winds picking up. These are all bad, bad, bad news for the fire service and the personnel on the ground and, of course, it’s going to have a profound impact on the economy as well,” Horgan said.

“These crises have been coming one after the other after the other over the past number of years and our responsibility is to make sure we’re responding to the needs in communities.”

“That’s pretty much all you can do when you’ve had three the worst fire seasons in five years, and that’s what we’ve been facing, that’s what British Columbians have been grappling with. Again, people making sacrifices every day, our job is to make sure that we’re helping them.”

Click to play video: 'Why did it take B.C. government so long to declare state of emergency?' Why did it take B.C. government so long to declare state of emergency?
Why did it take B.C. government so long to declare state of emergency? – Jul 20, 2021

In previous wildfire seasons, tourism operators across the province saw a drop-off in business after a state of emergency was declared.

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The state of emergency does not just impact those in the fire area but across the province. The tourism sector has lost billions of dollars due to the COVID-19 pandemic and had been planning for a bounce-back summer.

Horgan says his government is looking at providing additional and ongoing supports for the tourism sector.

“We have been there for over a year and a half to make sure that we’re stabilizing them, making sure that they have the capital that they need to keep operating, and we’ll keep doing that,” Horgan said.

“We have made sacrifices as BCers, businesses, communities, individuals, for the past year and half, and we have more sacrifices to make as we come through what is another potentially historic fire season.”

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