British Columbia

B.C. ends its wildfire-related state of emergency

The provincial state of emergency, which was put in place to support the wildfire response, will end on Tuesday.

The provincial state of emergency ends on Tuesday

Firefighter Brent King walks past an area where the B.C. Wildfire Service conducted a controlled burn to help contain the White Rock Lake wildfire on August 25, 2021. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

B.C.'s wildfire season is one step closer to ending with the province's announcement it is lifting the provincial state of emergency Tuesday evening. 

The state of emergency, which was put in place on July 20, came into effect to co-ordinate the response to one of the worst wildfire seasons on record. 

Overall this year, 1,585 fires burned 8,686 square kilometres in the province. Only the 2018 and 2017 wildfire seasons were worse, with nearly 13,550 square kilometres and 12,160 square kilometres burned, respectively. 

The state of emergency came after the entire town of Lytton and much of the surrounding countryside burned to the ground on June 30, and after thousands of people were forced out of their homes or told to prepare to leave at a moment's notice due to massive fires. Local leaders urged the province to declare a provincial state of emergency. 

On July 20, when the state of emergency was finally declared, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said it would help deal with the mass evacuations quickly and allow the government to secure accommodation for those people if necessary. 

It was extended three times during the summer. 

At the height of the season, 3,631 personnel worked to fight fires, including firefighters from Mexico, Australia and elsewhere in Canada. The fires displaced approximately 32,000 people and the province says 19,807 people registered with Emergency Support Services.

While the wildfire threat has dissipated considerably over the past few weeks thanks to cooler weather, increased precipitation and ongoing firefighting efforts, it is still not over. 

As of Monday, there are still 205 wildfires burning in B.C. There are three evacuation orders affecting approximately 223 properties and 12 evacuation alerts affecting approximately 254 properties.

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