British Columbia

B.C. flood and fire response to be examined in independent review

The B.C. government has confirmed there will be an independent review to look at the devastating 2017 flood and wildfire season.

65,000 people displaced in 2017 fire season, $550M spent on firefighting

Wildfires in B.C. scorched roughly 1.2 million hectares of land in 2017 and resulted in a lengthy provincial state of emergency. (CBC)

The B.C. government's response to unprecedented spring flooding and a devastating summer of wildfires will soon be examined in an external review commissioned by the province.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson confirmed the review Tuesday.

"Just the scope of the natural disasters, going from the flood into the fires, we felt it demanded an independent oversight review," he said.

B.C. communities, particularly in the Interior, coped with widespread flooding in May and June, followed almost immediately by the worst wildfire season the province has ever seen.

Similar to the Filmon Report

In total, B.C. fires displaced 65,000 people, destroyed more than 1.2 million hectares of forest and cost $550 million to fight.

The Elephant Hill wildfire burning through the hillside near Clinton, B.C., on Aug. 8, 2017. (Master Cpl. Malcolm Byers/Wainwright Garrison Imaging)

While individual ministries have already started their own technical reviews, Donaldson said this will be a comprehensive look at the 2017 flood and fire season.

"I see it working as having an independent person to be appointed with a body of experts ... and giving them full scope to do a comprehensive review, not just on what went well, but what can be improved."

Donaldson said the process will involve canvassing communities, First Nations communities and indepdendent contractors. He said it will also look at previous reports such as the Filmon Report, which was commissioned following the devastating 2003 wildfires.

John Rustad, the Liberal MLA for Nechako Lakes calls the review "much needed."

"We need to know what happened. We need to know the decisions we made and we need to make sure that we learned lessons from these disasters."

'I think the big concern is why decisions were made'

Rustad said his constituents have a number of questions following the wildfires, and he hopes the review will offer clarity.

"I think the big concern is why decisions were made.... as well, issues with communication, issues with structural protection."

Some B.C. residents affected by fires, including those in Pressy Lake, have openly questioned whether officials did enough to save homes.

Donaldson hopes the independent review will be ready for the spring, so any recommendations can be applied to next year's fire season.

The Elephant Hill wildfire destroyed parts of Pressy Lake's surrounding landscape, along with 33 homes. (Submitted)

With files from Megan Thomas and CBC's Radio West.