VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The wildfire situation in B.C. is so bad, the provincial government has declared a state of emergency.
This means the various agencies responding to the hundreds of wildfires burning throughout B.C. now have permission to use whatever resources they need to deal with the fires.
“This state of emergency… basically ensures that federal, provincial and local resources can be delivered in a coordinated approach, which allows us to protect the public, which remains the provincial government’s top priority,” said Ryan Turcot with the BC Wildfire Service.
“The state of emergency gives agencies… the authority to take every action necessary to fight wildfires and protect people and communities,” he added.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth made the call to declare the state of emergency, following a recommendation from the B.C. Wildfire Service. “Taking this step will further ensure we can protect the public, property and infrastructure, and assist with firefighting efforts.”
The state of emergency is initially in effect for 14 days, but it could be extended or rescinded.
As of Tuesday, there were 566 wildfires burning in B.C. Over 3,000 people were forced from their homes, under 29 evacuation orders. There were also 48 evacuation alerts, affecting nearly 19,000 people.
The BC Wildfire Service says more than 1,800 wildfires have been recorded since the season began on April 1, charring nearly 3,800-square kilometres of timber and bush.
The weather isn’t expected to help the situation much. The forecast is calling for more hot and dry conditions, with a risk of thunderstorms in some parts of the province.
Right now, there are more than 3,300 crew members actively fighting fires in B.C. That includes more than 400 workers who have come here from other parts of Canada, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand.
On Monday, the federal government announced it is stepping up to help fight the fires.
The province says federal crew members and resources will be arriving in B.C. in the coming days.