British Columbia

B.C. fires: Christy Clark pledges to spend beyond budget on wildfires

B.C. Premier Christy Clark has pledged to spend beyond budget to fight the wildfires raging across the province.

Premier gets up close and personal with wildfire base north of Whistler

There are 189 active fires throughout B.C. as of noon Wednesday, including the Boulder Creek fire north of Pemberton which is 5,000 hectares in size and growing. (B.C. Wildfire Management Branch)

B.C. Premier Christy Clark has pledged to spend beyond budget to fight the wildfires raging across the province. 

She landed by helicopter in Pemberton, north of Whistler, on Wednesday to take a first-hand look at the wildfire hot zone, a week before a massive music festival is set to open.

All the available firefighters in B.C. are already working, and reinforcements have been brought in from Ontario and requested from Australia and New Zealand. B.C. has more than burned through its entire wildfire budget of $63 million for the year, but the province has statutory access to contingency funding.

"We will spend what we need," said Clark. "If more resources are required we will get them."

There were 31 new fires in B.C. yesterday and 189 active fires throughout B.C. as of noon Wednesday.

Clark also offered condolences to the family of John Phare, a faller killed fighting a fire near Sechelt on Sunday, and praised the work of the more than 1,600 firefighters working in the province right now.

"It's dangerous work and we should all be grateful," she said.

Hottest, driest spell since 2003

Pemberton, located 67 kilometres east of the Elaho fire, is getting ready for the Pemberton Music Festival, which is scheduled to run from July 16 to 19. Organizers and village officials are keeping an eye on at least two adjacent fires, in the hope conditions don't turn too dangerous for the popular outdoor concert.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark poses with fire medic Jade Billy Pemberton. Clark says if more resources are required to fight the fires, the province will get them. (Chris Brown/CBC)

The Elaho fire, sparked by lightning June 14, is estimated to have covered 20,000 hectares. Further north the Boulder Creek fire, which has reached 5,000 hectares in size and is zero per cent contained, has triggered an evacuation order.

They are just two of more than 180 fires burning in the hazy province, which is in the midst of its hottest, driest spell since 2003.

The B.C. Wildfire Service predicts 30 new wildfires will erupt daily, based on the tinder dry conditions.

Campfire bans are in effect across B.C., including in parts of the dampest regions along the West Coast, dubbed "the fog zone," starting at noon on Wednesday.

With files from The Canadian Press


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