The B.C. government is lifting the provincial state of emergency that was declared more than two months ago due to wildfires in the Interior.
The declaration, which expires at midnight Friday, was put into place on July 7 after dozens of out-of-control wildfires broke out in the Interior. Thousands of people were forced from their homes.
The state of emergency allowed for better co-ordination between agencies responding to the fires and to public safety needs. It was extended four times over nine weeks. A $100-million fund was also made available to support evacuees.
This year has been the worst wildfire season on record. The wildfires have consumed more than 11,700 square kilometres of land since April 1. The BC Wildfire Service said this is the largest area burned in the province’s recorded history.
The BC Wildfire Service said it has spent more than $510 million to fight the fires. There are wildfires that are still burning out of control in southeastern B.C. As of Friday morning, there were 153 wildfires burning in the province and 11 evacuation orders affecting approximately 3,152 people. There are also 23 evacuation alerts affecting 5,762 people. Overall, approximately 65,000 people have been evacuated during this year’s wildfire season.
The province said while the state of emergency is expiring, the wildfire season is not over and it is still responding to the situation. However, the Canadian Forces will be demobilizing personnel who have been assisting with the response.
The last provincial state of emergency was in August 2003, also due to wildfires. That state of emergency lasted six weeks.
With files from The Canadian Press