The B.C. government has declared a provincial state of emergency to support its response to wildfires that continue to burn across the province.
Minister of public safety and solicitor general Mike Farnworth made the declaration based on the recommendation from B.C.’s wildfire and emergency management officials.
The state of emergency will initially be in effect for two weeks, and may be extended or rescinded as necessary. The declaration ensures that the delivery of federal, provincial, and local resources is co-ordinated to ensure that the public is protected.
“Public safety is always our first priority and, as wildfire activity is expected to increase, this is a progressive step in our wildfire response to make sure British Columbia has access to any and all resources necessary,” Farnworth said. “Taking this step will further ensure we can protect the public, property and infrastructure, and assist with firefighting efforts.”
There are 566 wildfires burning in B.C. as of Aug. 14, with 29 evacuation orders affecting approximately 3,050 people. There are an additional 48 evacuation alerts affecting another 18,720 people.
The provincial government requested federal government assistance to deal with wildfires on Monday, and personnel and resources are now on their way. There are currently more than 3,372 firefighters and contractors engaged in fighting fires.
“Given the unpredictable behaviour of wildfires and the number of significant wildfires in all areas of the province, we’re bringing in the additional resources we need to keep people and communities as safe as possible,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
“We’re asking British Columbians to do their part and follow burning bans and restrictions to prevent human-caused fires.”
This marks the second time in as many years that B.C. has declared a state of emergency due to wildfires. In 2017, the declaration lasted 10 weeks from July 7 to Sept. 15.
Prior to that, the most recent declaration was in August 2003.