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article imageNearly 600 wildfires burning across B.C. after lightning storms

By Karen Graham     Aug 14, 2018 in Environment
There are nearly 600 fires burning across B.C. with the danger rating rated at ‘high’ or ‘extreme’ in virtually every part of the province. Of those fires, 47 are considered to be serious, and a potential threat to public safety.
Lightning strikes sparked 145 new wildfires across British Columbia over the weekend, bringing the total of fires to nearly 600 burning across nearly every part of the province.
The number of fires is now more than the record season the province went through in 2017, but fire officials insist that residents are not in any greater danger this year.
“[In] 2017, we had about a dozen pretty major fires of concern and some of them reached massive sizes,” Kevin Skrepnek, B.C. Wildfire Service chief information officer told Global News.
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BC Wildfire ServiceVerified account
“We had hundreds of thousands of hectares burned by this time last year, single fires were just massive in size. We have a lot more active fires this year, as I said, almost 600 active fires across the province,” added Skrepnek. “At this time last year, we had about 150.”
There are currently 3,400 personnel fighting the fires. Since April 1, at least 1,502 fires have started, burning more than 101,000 hectares (249,576 acres). Firefighting efforts have cost the province more than $207 million so far. On Monday, just a few hours after a call for help from the provincial government, Ottawa sent 200 troops to assist in mop-up operations to contain the fires’ spread, as well as air assets to help transport firefighters, equipment, and evacuees.
“British Columbians can rest assured that help will be provided as soon as possible,” said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan in a joint statement Monday, reports the Vancouver Sun.
B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, speaking during a teleconference call, said: “All areas of the province are facing high to extreme fire conditions. We are seeing fire activity in all fire regions of the province, including Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii and the Lower Mainland.”
As of Monday afternoon, there were over two dozen evacuation orders, forcing over 3,400 people to leave their homes. Another 47 evacuation alerts have been put in place affecting an additional 17,900 residents who have to be prepared to leave at a moment's notice.
Smoke, and more smoke
Air-quality advisories have been put in place by Environment Canada for Dease Lake and the Bulkley Valley and the southern half of B.C., including Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley where residents woke up to hazy skies.
An air-quality advisory has also been issued by Metro due to the high concentration of fine particulate matter from wildfire smoke burning across the Pacific Northwest.
This year’s wildfires in British Columbia have burned about 2,920 square kilometers (1,128 square miles) to date, compared with 6,880 sq. km. (2,656 sq. mi.) burned by just over 1,000 wildfires at this time last year.
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