WATCH: Now to the latest on the wildfire situation in this province… With more than 500 fires burning, the government has declared a B.C.-wide state of emergency. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says the measure will ensure federal, provincial, and local resources are delivered to protect the public. Mary Griffin reports.
More than a dozen new wildfires were reported on northern Vancouver Island between Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the Coastal Fire Centre.
Coastal Fire Centre spokesperson Dorthe Jakobsen said there are 14 new wildfires burning north of Highway 28, bringing the total to 44 on the north Island. The majority of the fires were caused by lightning. There are no new fires on the south part of the Island.
Acting on the recommendation of BC’s Wildfire Service, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth declared a province-wide state of emergency.
“This decision has been made on the basis of advice that we’re received based on the number of fires, the nature of the fires, as well as the long term outlook over the next ten days in terms of the weather. And the fact that there does not appear to be any relief in sight,” Farnworth said.
The Nanaimo Lakes fire, which was discovered on Aug. 5, remains at 182 hectares. There is an evacuation alert for homes west of the fire. Over near Zeballos, there are two wildfires burning.
A small fire burning near the village is in very steep terrain and was quite active yesterday due to winds. The BC Wildfire Service will once again use helicopter bucketing Wednesday. The size is approximately 10 hectares and is visible from the village.
There is a second fire 22 kilometres north from Zeballos (also north of Tahsis) that could cut off the road. The fire, called the Pinder Creek, is at 80 hectares and is 10 per cent contained. It is burning in slash and is also in difficult terrain. There are 15 firefighters, three helicopters and two heavy equipment being used to get it under control.
The BC Wildfire Service said 559 fires were burning Wednesday in all corners of the province, with 31 new starts since Tuesday. Just over 1,800 blazes have been recorded since the wildfire season began April 1.
On Monday, B.C. asked Ottawa for aircraft, and military personnel to help with hotspots and evacuations from remote areas.
That help is en route, and likely directed to the Interior.
But there is no relief in sight, with no rain forecast in the province.
It’s the second time in as many years that a state of emergency has been declared during the wildfire season and the fourth time in just over two decades.
This latest state of emergency will remain in effect for 14 days but can be extended or rescinded as necessary.
To see where the latest B.C. wildfires are, visit the active wildfires map here.
With files from The Canadian Press