Stats show 2017, 2018 worst years on record
By Chandler Walter, Contributor
In BC, summer means heat, and heat means wildfires.
Record-breaking fires have been burning throughout the province for the past few months as fire crews from across the country and beyond work to put out the flames.
The province faced a similar dilemma last year when both human and lightning-caused fires burned through over one million hectares of land before being put out by either fire crews or cooler weather, and now 2018 is on the cusp of the same tragic milestone.
According to current statistics from BC Wildfire Service, this year has already seen 970,827 hectares of land burned as of August 27, and with 461 fires still burning, that number will only climb higher.
The fires have gotten so bad that the government of British Columbia declared a state of emergency on August 15.
Metro Vancouver residents were reminded of the fires on a daily basis over the past few weeks, as looming clouds of smoke covered much of the Lower Mainland. On August 22, Vancouver broke a record for the smokiest stretch of weather in history with 73 hours of nonstop smoke, according to the Vancouver Weather Twitter account. The last record was set in December of 1963 at 72 consecutive hours.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement that same day explaining what actions the Federal Government would be taking to combat the province-wide problem.
“Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the wildfires in British Columbia, and our government is determined to support British Columbia in the wake of this devastation,” Trudeau said in his statement.
“With this new committee, we will work to address the urgent and long-term impacts of the wildfires and will collaborate closely with Premier Horgan and local authorities to support recovery and rebuilding efforts. I would especially like to thank first responders and all of those who are working hard and putting their lives at risk to help people affected by the wildfires.”
The new committee that Trudeau mentioned in the statement is the Ad Hoc Cabinet Committee that will “meet as required to consider and coordinate federal contributions and to support recovery and rebuilding efforts.” The committee will also be working with Indigenous groups to ensure that their communities are supported, and will aid in the on-the-ground efforts currently being made by the Government Operations Centre.
While the smoke has since cleared from Vancouver’s skies, the unseen fires are still burning throughout the province.