British Columbia

B.C. communities left under-resourced to fight fires, says regional district chair

Fires, alerts and evacuation orders continue to grow across British Columbia and, in the worst affected areas, those fighting the fires are frustrated at what they describe as a lack of support from the provincial government.

Roughly 600 wildfires are burning across the province, stretching resources

Smoke and flames rise from the Shovel Lake fire near Burns Lake in B.C.'s Central Interior over the weekend. It is one of the areas in the Bulkley Nechako Regional District with an evacuation alert in place. (BC Wildfire Service)

Fires, alerts and evacuation orders continue to grow across British Columbia and, in some of the most affected areas, those fighting the fires are frustrated at what they describe as a lack of support from the provincial government.

The Interior's Bulkley-Nechako region has 10 fires of note, with eight evacuation orders and eight alerts in effect.

Regional district board chair Bill Miller said they have been asking the provincial government for more help for weeks and are struggling to fight all the fires burning.

"I do understand that the province has a ton of fires out there and limited resources, but I really think that we're almost at the point where we are beyond last year," Miller said.

"They need to become a lot more aggressive about what they are doing."

He said the district had enough resources to fight one fire — not the handfuls that are currently raging.  

"We've been so under-resourced for the last two weeks," he told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC's The Early Edition.

"The wildfire branch industry, the community, everybody has done 140 per cent trying to contain these fires."

Fires across the province

The province has spent $198 million fighting wildfires so far this year, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service.

"I was speaking with one of the fire teams that just got changed out," Miller said.

"He said if they had all the resources in B.C. on these fires, we'd still be asking for more resources."

Fighting the fires has been particularly challenging this year because of how spread out they are across the province, the B.C. Wildfire Service's Kevin Skrepnek told CBC in a previous interview.

Miller compared the amount of help and resources needed from the province to the kind of rainfall that's equally necessary.

"We don't need a sprinkle. We don't need showers. We need a downpour," he said.  

Fires, alerts and evacuation orders continue to grow across British Columbia and, in the worst affected areas, those fighting the fires are frustrated at what they describe as a lack of support from the provincial government. 7:57
 

With files from The Early Edition and Mike Laanela.

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