The provincial government took the rare step of declaring a state of emergency on Friday night in response to a series of fierce and fast-growing wildfires.
A statement from the province says Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure and Minister responsible for Emergency Management BC, says he wants to ensure a co-ordinated response to the current situation and to ensure public safety.
“Given the current wildfire situation and the expected increase in wildfire activity, the Province is taking this extraordinary measure of declaring a provincial state of emergency,” the statement reads.
The fires burning out of control in several areas in the B.C. Interior have already forced the evacuation of the entire town of Cache Creek, closed the airport in Williams Lake and forced thousands of people from their homes.
The B.C. Wildfire Service said 60 new fires started throughout the province on Friday.
“The state of emergency gives agencies such as Emergency Management BC, the Fire Commissioner, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and the RCMP authority under the Emergency Program Act to take every action necessary to fight the wildfires and protect residents and their communities,” the statement reads.
The last time a provincial state of emergency was in effect was in 2003, also prompted by wildfires.