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BC's state of emergency could be lifted by Friday: official

Last Updated Sep 13, 2017 at 3:16 pm PST

Fire activity in the Bald Mountain area (August, 2017). (Courtesy BC Wildfire Service via Twitter)
Summary

The state of emergency has been renewed several times this season

More than 1,200 wildfires have been sparked this year

CASTLEGAR (NEWS 1130) – CASTLEGAR (NEWS 1130) – There are predictions BC’s provincial state of emergency is expected to be lifted soon as the record-breaking wildfire season begins to wind down.

Chris Duffy with Emergency Management BC says he believes the state of emergency will be lifted by the end of day this Friday because fire conditions have improved across much of the province.

The declaration was originally made in early July as aggressive fires grew out of control in the Interior, devouring large swaths of land and forcing thousands of people from their homes.

At the time, the province said issuing a state of emergency allowed for better co-ordination of federal, provincial and local resources to ensure public safety.

The current state of emergency is the longest ever in BC history and it has been extended several times this summer.

Chief Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek says 1,249 fires have burned across the province since April 1st, costing the province more than $510 million for fire suppression alone, which burns right through the government’s budget.

Cooler weather and showers have helped crews fight fires in several areas in recent weeks, but Skrepnek says there were still 155 fires burning as of today. “The southeast is our area of largest concern right now, given that it is unseasonably warm and dry in that area,” he said

Improved conditions around other parts of the province have officials re-thinking some of the bans put in place to help with fire suppression, Skrepnek said.

Prohibitions on off-road vehicles and campfires could soon be lifted, he said, but British Columbians will have to remain vigilant about watching for fire danger. “Yes, we are moving into the fall now and we are seeing a lot of positive progress out there in a lot of these fires, but we’re still coming off what was an unprecedented summer and we are going to be feeling the effects of that for some time now,” Skrepnek said.

Wildfires this season have scorched more than 11,700 square kilometres, smashing a previous record for land burned set in 1958.