Number of wildfires nearly doubled from 2014
By Mercedes Deutscher, Staff Reporter
With the ongoing heat wave occurring through the province, BC has experienced an early start to the wildfire season.
By the end of June, the government had already depleted its budget of $63-million allocated for wildfire relief. The conservative budget was set to match mild wildfire seasons.
“It’s difficult to forecast wildfire suppression costs as each season varies significantly depending on weather conditions and the number and severity of wildfires that we respond to,” a ministry spokesperson told CTV.
Additional funds that are required to combat these forest fires will be pulled from the province’s contingency fund.
Although it is not unusual for the province to double or triple its original wildfire budget, it is very unusual for the budget to be depleted so early.
“It has been a fairly active early fire season,” Navi Saini, a provincial fire information officer, said to the Globe and Mail. “The fire activity we’ve been seeing and the fires of note, we usually see that in July–August, not May–June.”
In an effort to aid and to recover funding for fighting provincial wildfires, the Ministry of Finance will deploy crews to help with wildfire relief in other provinces and fine those found responsible for starting or aiding a wildfire.
The Ministry of Forests, via CTV, tried to reassure BC residents that although the wildfire budget has been surpassed, the province will do whatever is necessary to keep residents and property safe by automatically approving any funds required for combating dangerous wildfires.
It appears as if July and August will be providing just as much dryness to BC’s climate, with projected temperatures being warmer than average, and precipitation levels being scarce.
Most of the province has placed high, if not extreme, warnings about the potential of wildfires. As of July 2, campfires are restricted throughout all of the coastal region, with the exception of a few areas of Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii.
Fires have already burned through over 60,000 hectares of space, as opposed to an average of just over 16,000 hectares. Several notable wildfires have already begun this season, mainly in Petitot River and Mount Bigfoot near Fort Nelson, as well as Westbridge, Pemberton, and near Nanaimo.
As of this year, approximately 50 per cent of fires have been caused by humans. The other 50 per cent were started by lightning.
Those who witness people contributing to the danger of wildfires or people ignoring campfire restrictions are advised to contact 1-888-3FOREST (1-888-3367378).