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‘Fatigue is something we are concerned about’: B.C. wildfire crews continue to give their all

Click to play video: 'B.C. wildfire update: 1,528 fires so far this season'
B.C. wildfire update: 1,528 fires so far this season
Favourable conditions over the past few days have allowed crews to get a better handle on a number of fires burning around the province. But while some progress is being made,officials say we're far from in the clear. Emad Agahi reports – Aug 19, 2021

As B.C.’s 2021 wildfire season continues to be one of the longest in the province’s history, the wildfire service said Thursday it is concerned about the exhausting conditions that crews are facing.

“Fatigue is something we have concern with,” Todd Nessman with the BC Wildfire Service said at a media update.

“We’re starting to see more safety concerns come forward. Slips, trips, falls, that kind of thing.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. public safety minister thanks firefighters helping fire-affected communities'
B.C. public safety minister thanks firefighters helping fire-affected communities

There are currently more than 3,800 wildfire personnel involved in fighting the fires around B.C.

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“It’s a hard season, I’m not going to lie, it’s difficult,” Nessman said.

“Folks are doing a good job getting through it and thankfully, everyone is getting through it as best they can.”

He said the length of the wildfire season in 2017 was very challenging and they are seeing similar traits this year.

As the season is expected to last into September, Nessman said they are also aware they will be losing numbers.

“We will be looking closely at our numbers as we get closer to our fall drop-off with our firefighters going back to school and post-secondary institutions,” he said.

Click to play video: 'B.C. residents cheer on firefighters as they arrive back to camp after battling wildfires'
B.C. residents cheer on firefighters as they arrive back to camp after battling wildfires

Since the season began on April 1, there have been 1,528 fires ignited and more than 852,000 hectares burned.

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Nessman said that last week about 54 fires started, largely due to the weather patterns in certain regions. That translated to about five to 10 new fires a day.

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None of the existing fires has had significant growth due to favourable weather this week, Nessman added, which has allowed crews to make some progress.

While some fires are stable, there are still areas in the Cariboo Fire Centre and the Southern Okanagan that remain a concern heading into the weekend.

“We are nowhere near out of the woods,” B.C.’s Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said Thursday.

There are currently 75 evacuation orders in the province, which translates to about 6,126 properties.

There are also 122 evacuation alerts, which translates to about 19,840 properties.

 

Click to play video: 'B.C. wildfire: Wind impacting White Rock Lake fire, tourists unaware of calls to stay away'
B.C. wildfire: Wind impacting White Rock Lake fire, tourists unaware of calls to stay away

Thursday’s conference comes after a document was leaked alleging the province knew it did not have enough staff ahead of the wildfire season.

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The province is speaking out and arguing claims it is leaving resources on the table are false.

The document was written by a forestry organization and details a meeting between the BC Wildfire Service and the forestry industry in mid-July.

It was first publicized by a documentary filmmaker who has been covering the White Rock Lake wildfire and shared with Global News.

Click to play video: 'Woman who lost everything to B.C. wildfire speaks about heartbreaking loss'
Woman who lost everything to B.C. wildfire speaks about heartbreaking loss

Thie massive White Rock Lake fire, burning west of Vernon, is an estimated 81,139 hectares Thursday morning.

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More than 400 properties on the northern edge of the fire were given the “all clear” notice Wednesday and on the northeast flank, the city of Armstrong was able to lift an evacuation alert for about 5,000 residents but other evacuation alerts and orders remain in place.

Click to play video: 'BC Wildfire Service said it is concerned about fatigue among crew members'
BC Wildfire Service said it is concerned about fatigue among crew members

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