British Columbia Wildfires: Province Declares First State of Emergency in 14 Years

British Columbia Wildfires: Province Declares First State of Emergency in 14 Years

British Columbia Wildfires: Province Declares First State of Emergency in 14 Years

"It is cresting the top of one of the mountains and people are around me getting cattle out of the area, horses out of the area", he said.

More than 231 fires were burning, with at least 10 close to residential communities, Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told reporters.

"Whatever these wildfires throw at us, we will overcome it".

The province is expecting 300 firefighters from Alberta, Ontario and other parts of Canada to help some 1,000 crew members already deployed over the weekend in efforts to douse the blazes.

More than 1,800 firefighters were fighting around 200 fires on Saturday, many of which are considered to be out of control.

"It was very hot in the house, you could smell smoke everywhere, and everyone around us was being evacuated", she said.

The province of British Columbia last declared a state of emergency all the way back in August 2003, also because of widespread wildfires.

The wildfire situation is much calmer in the Southeast of B.C. There are now five active wildfires, but only two are larger than a hectare.

This is an initiative that is now being tested by International Red Cross and UNICEF that helps locate displaced people when tragedy strikes. "We haven't lost a structure yet".

"We're getting a tremendous amount of response from our department with guys that are willing to give up whatever and head off to help out with the situation", says Acting Chief Rob Marshall with View Royal Fire.

Experts are saying that a confluence of factors has created a "perfect storm" for this intense wildfire season, including hot, dry, windy weather; fuel, usually in the form of tinder-dry vegetation; and ignition, usually caused by dry lightning or a tossed cigarette butt, reports CBC News.

"Generally, we're still looking at a deteriorating situation", he added.

"The threat is there for all of Western Canada", he said. The combined size of the fires was nine square kilometres, although the fire service says poor visibility makes it hard to determine the perimeter of the fires.

Lori Daniels, an associate professor of forest ecology at UBC, says BC forests dried out when there were record high temperatures in June. Broznitsky said the fire centre will do a reassessment on Friday, July 7, to see if action should be taken to further the campfire ban into other areas of the region.

She also advised homeowners to check their roofs to see if there are needles or branches that would burn if an ember landed on their house.

In the Wildwood fire hall, the volunteer firefighters are wondering when they will be getting back to their day jobs - at the auto dealership, at the plywood plant, even at the marriage counsellor's office.

"Even if it's raining when people are going camping, they still need to abide by the rules of those fire restrictions until it's officially lifted", Paplawski said.

Related news