“We’ve had 1,609 fires since April 1, burning an estimate 291,000 hectares, cost to date a, little over $200 million.” That’s BC’s Chief Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek with this season’s province-wide wildfire numbers, confirming 2015 is on track to become one of the three worst fire years in BC history.
Considering the numbers for the same time last year were $196 million and 279,000 hectares, the province is now ahead of the 2014 pace in terms of both fire-fighting costs and burn area.
The latter is primarily due to what Communications Specialist Jillian Kelsh tell us has occurred here in the Prince George Centre earlier this year.
“Over the last five years, 2010 was our busiest year in the number of fires. At this time in 2015, there were 426 fires compared 323 so far this year in the Prince George Fire Centre.” Kelsh goes on to say this even though the number of fires is down from the busiest year in 2010, more land has burned in 2015 with 212,000 hectares.
That means of the 279,000 hectares burned in B.C., almost 70 per cent of that number has burned in the Prince George Fire Centre, which includes Northeast B.C.
In addition, another human made problem has surfaced, in that area, as officials are not only being forced to deal with careless smokers, but also with curious drone operators who have forced suspension of fire-fighters’ aerial attacks, putting both lives and property at risk.
“Maybe somebody wants to get up there and see whats going on, but they should know when their drone is up there, people maybe losing their houses, people maybe being evacuated. That is just not acceptable. Get these drones out of the air and let us fight these fires.”
Premier Clark has also had some more harsh words, for those who carelessly toss their cancer stick butts from vehicles, saying again, she’s prepared to consider tougher penalties, including vehicular seizure.
She’s also predicting the fire-fighting bill this year could go as high, as 400 million dollars.