BC’s wildfire season has scorched the second most amount of land in the province’s history — and there is still another month or more left in the season.
Kevin Skrepnek from the BC Wildfire Service says over 491,000 hectares have burned, surpassing the 483,000 hectares (total season) in 1961.
“The 2017 season has been extraordinary in many ways, in terms of the aggressiveness of the fire behaviour we’re seeing, and the large number of fires we saw start in early July; over 200 fires in the course of 48 hours,” says Skrepnek.
Skrepnek says it’s too soon to say if this year could surpass BC’s all time record of 855,968 hectares which burned in 1958.
There are 126 fires burning in BC today, with eight new starts on Wednesday.
There have been 861 fires this season, costing $204 million to fight.
The Elephant Hill fire between Cache Creek and Clinton has grown to over 93,000 hectares, and continues to show aggressive, dangerous behaviour on the west and north east flanks, according to Skrepnek.
It is 30 percent contained, with over 600 personnel on the ground.
Skrepnek says about 30 fire personnel from Australia will arrive this weekend to help on BC fires, with more expected to come from New Zealand perhaps by next week.
Chris Duffy from Emergency Management BC says 6,700 people are on evacuation order, with 24,800 on evacuation alert.
He says $340,000 was raised for fire victims from donations by customers at BC Liquor Stores over three weeks.
“Those funds will go through the Canadian Red Cross to provide evacuees with essential shelter, food and support.”
Gord Anderson from the BC Fire Commissioner’s Office says the estimated cost of structure protection related deployments, to the end of July was 10 million dollars, or about $400,000 per day.