Only one week into June and British Columbia is already facing one of the worst wildfire seasons in B.C. history.
“It’s quite alarming to see this amount of burning, it doesn’t bode well for the remainder of the summer,” said Neal McLoughlin with the BC Wildfire Service on Thursday.
As of Thursday, 82 wildfires were burning across B.C.
Since April 1, the province has seen 382 wildfires burn over half a million hectares, more than double what the 10-year average is typically at this time.
“Already the number of hectares burned exceeds the total number of hectares burned in 16 of the last 20 wildfire seasons,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, said at a press conference Thursday.
Today’s touch of rain are only small drops in an empty bucket. Not enough to stop a deep-set drought, set in motion by an unseasonably dry fall, then spring.
“We’ve melted that snow 3 to 4 weeks earlier than normal and as we approach the peak of lightening season, those fuels are ready to be ignited,” said Matt MacDonald, BC Wildfire Service lead forecaster.
Already one of the most challenging wildfires seasons on record, the province now heads into its hottest months, with no real relief in the form of rain in the forecast.
“Conditions are very dry and we expect that to continue, according to the expert advice were receiving. So please use caution so we can try our best to avoid a catastrophic fire season here in the province,” said David Eby, B.C.’s Premier while in Vancouver Friday.
The sense of apprehension is being felt over eastern Canada as well, where the smoke is slowly clearing, but much of Quebec still remains engulfed.
“We’re all concerned, right? The world’s on fire,” said Jenn Phenning, president of the National Farmers Union.
The smoke is sparking the union to call for everyone to get real on climate change.
Governments around the world have to be taking this more seriously, acting with urgency, acting like our lives depend on it, because they do,” said Phenning.
It’s something officials say is top of mind in British Columbia.
“We are seeing the impacts of climate change all around us. Climate-related disasters are increasing,” said Ma.
Officials’ main concern right now is facing a wildfire season with potentially more fires, than they can fight.
The province is calling back teams from Alberta putting in early requests for backup international resources, as they brace for what could be one of the worst wildfire seasons in B.C. history.