WATCH: “Unprecedented”. That’s how B.C.’s current wildfire situation is being described. Before welcoming the prime minister to Nanaimo this afternoon. Premier John Horgan toured the interior of the province, seeing first hand some of the 565 wildfires currently burning. Twenty thousand people remain on evacuation alert or under an evacuation order. Mary Griffin has the latest on the fire situation across the province and here on Vancouver Island.
Cutting through dense smoke, a helicopter headed toward the fire burning above the village of Zeballos. It is one of 64 fires burning north of Campbell River, that includes three fires of note that are threatening property and people.
Premier John Horgan was touring the interior of the province on Tuesday to assess the current situation.
“We are not out of the woods yet. We don’t see rain in the foreseeable future,” Horgan said.
With more than 560 wildfires burning across B.C., the warning from fire officials is that the situation in BC’s central-north is dire. And the message to residents there, when the order is given to evacuate, there’s no choice.
Dale Hicks, with the B.C. Wildfire Service, spoke with residents near Francois Lake about leaving when the evacuation order comes.
“Most people that die in a forest fire, or brush fire, are dying fleeing the fire. They stay in the area until the wall of smoke becomes a wall of flames,” Hicks said. “And then they jump in their truck and take off.”
With no rain in the forecast, there is no relief in sight for the province, all this coming on the heels of last year’s fires and floods. Horgan said the current situation is coming on a string of natural disasters.
“We went from fire, to flood, and then again to fire. Thirteen months in office, and we’ve had two states of emergency. That’s unprecedented,” Horgan said.
The province is preparing for a future that is drier and hotter. It’s following recommendations from the BC Flood and Wildfire Review, an independent report. Co-author George Abbott said what’s needed is more money, and resources.
“We’ve moved away in the last twenty years from a lot of expenditure on the planning, preparation side. We need to go back to that,” Abbott said.
Otherwise, the view from the top of Mount Tolmie, without the ocean and the Sooke Hills in the distance might become the new normal.