By: The Working Forest Staff
VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — B.C.’s public safety minister says the province is extending its state of emergency to support the response to wildfires for another two weeks.
Mike Farnworth announced the extension Tuesday, saying the move recognizes that fire danger persists, even as cooler weather helps firefighting crews.
“Things are trending in the right direction, but we must remain alert and aware of the fires still burning and the potential for others to start,” he said in a statement.
“Extending this state of emergency recognizes that the potential for significant wildfire activity persists, even as the nights get longer and the days cool down a bit, so I urge British Columbians to continue to be vigilant.”
Derek Williams, with the BC Wildfire Service, says now is not the time to be complacent.
“While things are looking better across the province, we’re not out of the woods just yet. So, we’re asking everyone to please keep doing their part to be fire safe and particularly as we head into the long weekend.
“If you are going to travel for the long weekend, we’d like to ask people to make sure that they plan before they go to avoid active fire areas and areas that are directly impacted by evacuation orders or alerts.”
Forests Minister Katrine Conroy is also encouraging people to comply with the fire ban and do their part to prevent human-caused blazes.
“It’s been a long and challenging summer for our crews on the front lines of this fire, and it’s not over yet,” she said
“Let’s help fire crews by doing our part to be fire safe and report fire activity, so we can get through the remainder of this season without any more human-caused fires.”
The number of fires of note, meaning they are either highly visible or pose a potential threat to public safety, has dropped to 16 from over 30 earlier in August.
As of Tuesday morning, 233 wildfires were burning in B.C., with 21 evacuation orders affecting approximately 3,754 properties. There are 77 evacuation alerts affecting approximately 6,073 properties.
The emergency operations centre for the central Okanagan says the BC Wildfire Service has completed planned ignitions around the destructive White Rock Lake fire that forced the evacuation of 1,316 properties west of Okanagan Lake.
The City of Penticton has activated its emergency operations centre as the Skaha Creek wildfire continues to burn near the Okanagan community.
Director Donny Van Dyk says the municipality is taking steps to prepare and plan in the event there is a change in the behaviour of the fire, and to be ready to support the Penticton Indian Band.
The First Nation put 240 properties on evacuation alert Monday as a precaution.
The fire grew to 212 hectares Monday and is classified as out of control.
See more HERE.