British Columbia Declares a State of Emergency as Wildfires Rage
A provincial state of emergency was declared by the B.C. government on Tuesday after wildfires in the area triggered dozens of evacuation orders, officials said.
Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, made the statement based on the recommendation of the British Columbia Wildfire Service and Emergency Management British Columbia, according to a press release. The declaration will remain in effect for two weeks and can be extended if necessary.
The state of emergency will allow the provision of provincial and local resources as part of a coordinated response.
There are currently nearly 300 active wildfires in British Columbia and 14 have started in the past two days, according to the government. The majority of the fires are grouped towards the southern part of the Canadian province, near the borders of Washington and Montana. Wildfires further east of Canada have forced authorities in Minnesota to issue an air quality alert, affecting much of the state.
The forest fires, which drew more than 3,000 firefighters and other personnel, triggered 40 evacuation orders affecting more than 5,700 people, officials said. Sixty-nine other evacuation alerts affected another 32,000 people.
“I have learned that we are going to face a few days of very difficult weather conditions indoors,” Mr Farnworth said in a statement. “This declaration will address the potential for a mass evacuation scenario and provide our government with the means to secure the necessary accommodation spaces to house our citizens, if necessary.”
The extended weather forecast called for continued hot and dry conditions, with increased wind activity in the interior and southeastern British Columbia, the statement said. Much of the province was at high or extreme risk of wildfire outbreaks.
Officials this month announced precautionary measures to address safety concerns related to extreme weather hazards and wildfires, including reducing train speeds when temperatures are at least 86 degrees Fahrenheit and when the fire danger level for the region is “extreme”.
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