KELOWNA (NEWS 1130) – It was the worst wildfire season in BC history and now we’re getting a sense of the cost of the damage, which according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada sits at well over $100 million.
The bureau says the two biggest wildfires this season caused a total of $127 million in damage alone. A massive fire around Williams Lake alone caused nearly $100 million in insured damage to homes, cars and businesses while the Elephant Hill wildfire caused more than $27 million worth.
“The biggest one obviously were the Elephant Hill which came through Cache Creek and Ashcroft and we’ve all seen the destruction there, as well as those around Williams Lake. They had a massive impact on British Columbians and on the individuals living in those areas,” explains Aaron Sutherland with IBC.
He adds with evidence that severe weather events are happening more frequently, this is another reminder that we should be prepared. “The numbers are still coming in. The wildfire season still has a little bit left to go. We hope we’re through the worst of it and we likely are and we are quite lucky here in the sense that we haven’t had the impact that we might have at the outset of these fires.”
Sutherland says the damage was extensive and significant, but it was not in the same range as of the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire. “The insured losses are extremely large but they aren’t coming in quite like we might have seen coming out of Fort McMurray where you saw over $3.5 billion in damage there and thousands of homes destroyed.”
Firefighting efforts have cost the provincial government more than $500 million since the season began on April 1st. This year’s wildfire season has been the worst on record in BC with help arriving from across the country, Mexico, the US and as far as Australia. The previous record was set in 1958 when 855,000 hectares of forest burned.