B.C. declares state of emergency as 566 wildfires burn across province
Published Wednesday, August 15, 2018 12:23PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 15, 2018 8:45PM EDT
The British Columbia government has declared a state of emergency as hundreds of out-of-control wildfires intensify across the province.
There are 566 wildfires burning in the province, with nearly 29 evacuation orders forcing 3,050 people from their homes. Another 18,700 people are under evacuation alerts.
Those numbers could grow as officials expect the fires will spread. The forecast across B.C. calls for continued hot and dry conditions with risks of thunderstorms. The blazes have left much of B.C. in a haze with air quality advisories in effect in several areas, including Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.
The federal government has approved the deployment of nearly 200 members of the Armed Forces to help.
B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said declaring a state of emergency was a “progressive step” taken at the urging of wildfire experts.
"Taking this step will further ensure we can protect the public, property and infrastructure, and assist with firefighting efforts," Fanworth said in a statement.
More than 3,372 firefighters and contractors are fighting the fires. Crews from as far away as Mexico, New Zealand and Australia have been dispatched. Additional federal resources and personnel are expected to arrive in the province in the coming days.
Doug Donaldson, the B.C. minister who oversees forests, said British Columbians are asked to follow burning bans to help contain the disaster.
The state of emergency will be in effect for an initial 14 days. Last year, B.C. was in a provincial state of emergency for 10 weeks.
The provincial wildfire service says more than 1,800 wildfires have been recorded since April 1, destroying about 3.800-square kilometres of brush.
With files from The Canadian Press.