VICTORIA, B.C. – With 253 active wildfires in B.C. as of Tuesday, officials gave an update on the ever-changing fire situation.
Director of fire centre operations with the BC Wildfire Service, Rob Schweitzer says the province is well ahead of the 10-year average for this period.
“The 10-year average for this time of year is about 642 fires and 105,000 hectares burned.”
Since April 1st, BC Wildfire Service responded to about 12,130 wildfires, burning as many as 425,000 hectares.
Stabilizing weather patterns mean there won’t be so many wind-driven events with aggressive fire growth, says Schweitzer.
One concern that he says puts unnecessary stress on firefighters is evacuation reluctance.
“Over this past weekend, there have been several reports of individuals not heeding evacuation orders and BC Wildfire Service operational efforts have been diverted, including helicopters and aircraft to support individuals who have been trapped behind the fire line,” said Schweitzer. “We’ve even seen in other jurisdictions numerous fatalities that have occurred when people chose to remain behind and decided to leave only when the fire got closer.”
“When an evacuation order has been issued by the local government, please heed those warnings, heed those times so that we keep everyone safe throughout this fire season.”
Pader Brach, executive director of regional operations for Emergency Management BC says there are currently 61 evacuation orders representing approximately 3,700 properties in the province.
“We have 85 evacuation alerts that represent approximately 18,000 properties. There are 21 reception centres supporting evacuees, and over 5,000 evacuees are already registered,” said Brach.
B.C. is getting assistance from other provinces and countries to help with the wildfire effort, including 100 firefighters from Mexico already on the ground, and 34 Australian personnel set to arrive Tuesday evening.
According to the B.C. Wildfire Dashboard, there are 49 active fires in the Prince George Fire Centre as of Tuesday.