BRITISH COLUMBIA (NEWS 1130) – Costs for the province’s firefighting efforts are estimated to be at $173 million so far this year as 475 wildfires burn across B.C.
“So a fairly significant number and has definitely been climbing over the last few days just given that we’ve seen a fairly increase in activity,” said Chief Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek.
Despite some cool weather moving in, crews are concerned about possible lightning and wind going into the weekend.
“Really high fire activity right across the province. All six of our regional fire centres right now are fully engaged, high fire loads, really form one corner of B.C. to the other,” said Skrepnek.
He said crews are gearing up for what could be a critical few days across the province.
According to the BC Wildfire Service, there are currently more than 20 wildfires of note.
“The more high profile wildfires I would say are in the Nanaimo Lakes area, in the Port Alberni area – specifically north of Cherry Creek – and as well one a little bit further east in the west side of Highway 7 between Hope and Agassiz,” said Fire Information Officer Natasha Broznitsky.
The Snowy Mountain fire near the U.S. border and Alkali fire in B.C.’s northwest are also quite visible.
Broznitsky said the Coastal Fire Centre has seen multiple new fires in the last two days. She also notes some of the fires aren’t significant in terms of size but are highly visible.
“Compared to this date last year, if you were to look at August 9 of 2017 we only had about 148 active fires. Now the key thing to keep in mind here is the size of these fires,” said Skrepnek, noting a lot of the fires currently burning are fairly small.
Meanwhile, an “aggressive fire” has appeared near West Kelowna, luckily no structures are threatened but the fire has grown to 100 hectares since it was first discovered earlier on Thursday.
According to the BC Wildfire Service, ground crews, air support and heavy equipment are on scene. The fire is expected to continue to grow.
Close to $50,000 in fines were issued for campfire violations over the long weekend.
Last year’s destructive fire season cost the province more than $564 million.
-With files from Hana Mae Nassar