Published: Sat, August 18, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

British Columbia declares state of emergency over wildfires

British Columbia declares state of emergency over wildfires

Additional federal resources and personnel will arrive in the province in the coming days in response to the state of emergency.

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, made the declaration on Wednesday based on the recommendation from B.C.'s wildfire and emergency management officials.

"Taking this step will further ensure we can protect the public, property and infrastructure, and assist with firefighting efforts", Fanworth said in a statement. That number is likely to increase as the extended weather forecast calls for continued hot and dry conditions, with the risk of thunderstorms in some parts of the province.

The federal government has also approved the deployment of almost 200 members of the Armed Forces to assist with fighting the fires.

As of Tuesday, there are more than 560 wildfires burning across the province, including five major fires within the Prince George Fire Centre.

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BC firefighters are also getting help from colleagues from other Canadian provinces as well as from fire crews from Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand.

The state of emergency will remain in effect for 14 days, but can be extended or rescinded as necessary.

Doug Donaldson, the B.C. minister who oversees forests, said British Columbians are asked to follow burning bans to help contain the disaster.

The wildfire service says more than 1,800 wildfires have been recorded since the season began on April 1, charring almost 3,800 square kilometers (1,467 square miles) of timber and bush.

The state of emergency gives government and policing agencies the authority to take every action necessary to fight the wildfires and protect people and communities. Prior to that, another state of emergency had not been in place due to wildfires in B.C. since the devastating 2003 fire season.

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