The B.C government has declared a provincial state of emergency to support the ongoing wildfire situation.
Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General made the announcement after recommendations from the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management BC.
The state of emergency comes into effect at 12 a.m. on July 21st, 2021.
The province said the declaration allows federal, provincial and local resources to be delivered in a coordinated response to protect the public.
“Public safety is always our first priority, and as wildfire activity is expected to increase, this is a progressive step in our wildfire response to make sure British Columbia has access to extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act,” Farnworth said.
“In a briefing last night, I received word that we’ll be facing a few days of very difficult weather in the Interior. This declaration will address the potential of a mass evacuation scenario and provide our government with the means to secure the accommodation spaces necessary to house our citizens, if necessary.”
The province said, as of July 20th, there were 299 wildfires burning in B.C., with 40 evacuation orders affecting approximately 5,724 people (2,862 properties), in addition to 69 evacuation alerts impacting approximately 32,076 people (16,038 properties).
According to the province, more than 3,180 firefighters and resource staff are currently actively engaged in fighting fires in all fire regions in the province. This includes 1,080 contractors and 135 out-of-province resources.
The federal government accepted British Columbia’s request for firefighting assistance and personnel and resources will be coming in the next few days.