Provincial state of emergency declared in BC

B.C. wildfires

B.C. wildfires

The B.C. government has declared a provincial state of emergency due to the ongoing wildfires.

"Taking this step will further ensure we can protect the public, property and infrastructure, and assist with firefighting efforts", Fanworth said in a statement. The state of emergency will allow a co-ordinated response from federal, provincial and local governments, says the province.

Tessa Vikander is a Vancouver-based reporter covering identity and inequality.

The state of emergency gives agencies, such as the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Emergency Management BC, the fire commissioner and the RCMP, the authority to take every action necessary to fight the wildfires and protect people and communities.

The last provincial declaration of state of emergency before the 2017 wildfire season was issued in August 2003, to deal with wildfires.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth made the call to declare the state of emergency, following a recommendation from the B.C. Wildfire Service.

The B.C. Wildfire Service is urging residents to obey campfire bans and avoid any activity that could start new fires as conditions remain dry across the province.

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The declaration is in effect for two weeks from the time it is issued and may be extended or rescinded as the situation develops.

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

In fact, lightning has already sparked more than 1,300 wildfires in B.C. this year, which is more than any year since 2009. At the same time a year ago, the agency had spent $332 million.

The most severe losses this year have been in the Telegraph Creek area, which Donaldson visited on Tuesday. The human cost has not been as high this year, but the total number of fires is greater, said Skrepnek.

Environment Canada issued air quality advisories for much of B.C., all of Alberta, and parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as smoke from the fires drifts east.

It will be in place across the entire western province for at least 14 days.

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