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article imageBritish Columbia declares state of emergency as wildfires rage

By Karen Graham     Jul 9, 2017 in Environment
Vancouver - Over 240 wildfires raging in Canada's western province of British Columbia have prompted the evacuation of over 3,000 people and the province's first state of emergency in over 14 years.
The wildfires are scattered over hundreds of kilometers of British Columbia's central and southern interior, burning through bone-dry forests used for logging and large rolling swaths of grasslands that are home to ranchers.
High temperatures and a driving wind have made if difficult for the over 1,000 firefighters to make much headway. On Saturday, the Weather Network reported that a ridge of high pressure over Western Canada is sustaining hot, desert air pushing up from the US throughout the prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba and into B.C.
"The weather situation is not favorable," said John Rustad, the provincial minister in charge of firefighting operations, according to Reuters. "There is very aggressive fire behavior that makes it very difficult to directly attack."
A number of homes have already been confi rmed to have been destroyed in the wildfires. The total nu...
A number of homes have already been confi rmed to have been destroyed in the wildfires. The total number of people evacuated is still not known.
BC Red Cross
CTV News Canada on Saturday evening put out some pertinent facts about the wildfire situation in British Columbia. Between July 1 and July 8, there have been 463 fires reported with over 113 square kilometers being burned.
Out-going B.C. Premier Christy Clark visited the Kamloops district where over 3,600 people were forced to leave their homes. After meeting with emergency officials and families displaced by the fires, she announced that $600 will be made immediately available by electronic transfer through the Red Cross to people who have registered after being forced from their homes.
Alanna Kelly‏
"Summer of the fire" declared by senior climatologist
Environment Canada’s senior climatologist Dave Phillips spoke with CTV News Channel. He has an explanation about what is causing the extremely hazardous conditions.
“It’s been too dry, too hot, for too long,” he said. “It’s like putting a giant dome over Western Canada, particularly in British Columbia and it’s not allowing any weather to come in," Phillips said, adding that it has been 28 days since it last rained in BC, while in the last 53 days, the province has only seen what he calls a "thimble-full."
He noted that the lack of air, coupled with high humidity and record-high temperatures and gusting winds, all played a role in creating the extreme conditions being seen in BC. And because the fires are spread out all over the place, emergency services are having a difficult time mobilizing in any one area, adding to the inability to gain control of the fires.
Alanna Kelly‏
However, in speaking of the long-term, and that includes August on up to September, Phillips said, "This will be the summer of the fire. The rest of July and August will be warmer than normal and drier than normal.” Phillips added, “The threat is there for all of Western Canada."
The three largest fires cover from 14 to 20 square kilometers. They have driven thousands of people from their homes in the communities of Ashcroft, Cache Creek, 100 Mile House, 105 Mile House, 108 Mile House, 150 Mile House and the Alexis Creek area.
More about Wildfires, British columbia, Evacuations, Climate change, state of emergency