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BC wildfire response cost almost at $500 million

Last Updated Sep 11, 2017 at 1:56 pm PST

(Photo courtesy BC Wildfire Service)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The cost of dealing with BC’s worst wildfire season on record is inching closer to half a billion dollars.

Chief Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek says there are currently 168 fires burning and close to 13,000 square kilometres of land have been scorched since April 1st.

“Estimated cost to date, specifically for the BC Wildfire Service, is $499.4 million. In general, we’ve got likely a few challenging days ahead of us, particularly in the southeastern part of the province.”

A number of large fires continue to burn mostly out of control, but several more evacuation orders and alerts were rescinded over the weekend.

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham says a $20 million recovery program is already in action for ranchers and farmers who’ve recorded losses.

“We’ll be providing assistance for veterinary costs, transportation and housing costs for displaced animals. Feeding costs, labour for fencing repairs, critical infrastructure not covered by insurance and re-seeding of crops damaged in the fires that will not be able to make a comeback on their own.”

Although all road closures have been lifted and several more evacuation orders or alerts have been rescinded, firefighters warn the weather continues to be challenging in many high-risk zones.