VICTORIA - With a significant number of wildfires burning throughout B.C., the Province continues to caution all British Columbians to be diligent with fire safety and to report all wildfires to authorities.
- The wildfire smoke advisory for the south coast of Vancouver Island and for Campbell River has been lifted, as air quality conditions have improved.
- An air quality advisory due to elevated levels of ground-level ozone is also now in place for the Fraser Valley.
- The Big Beaver Creek wildfire crossed the Alaska Highway due to winds last night. The Alaska Highway is currently open to single-lane traffic and no Evacuation Alerts or Orders are in place at this time for that area.
- The Puntzi Lake wildfire in the Cariboo has increased in size to 1,200 hectares and an evacuation order is in place.
- A 0.2 hectare fire located in the community of Cedarvale, southwest of Hazelton, is now in mop-up status.
Update on fire activity and impacts:
There were 19 new fires in B.C. yesterday. As of noon today, there were 197 active fires throughout the province (of these, 20 are active fires of note), with eight states of local emergency due to wildfire, and nine Evacuation Alerts and Orders currently in effect.
As of July 9, 2015, over 80 properties in the province were on Evacuation Order with approximately 500 homes on Evacuation Alert. These numbers will fluctuate as orders and alerts are put into place or rescinded.
Evacuation Orders currently exist in these areas:
- Boulder Creek wildfire, northwest of Pemberton Meadows, affecting three commercial properties and two recreational cabins.
- Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, affecting 21 seasonal homes due to Dog Mountain wildfire.
- Puntzi Lake wildfire, northwest of Williams Lake, affecting approximately 35 residences.
- Sechelt Mine wildfire, issued for Carlson Point, affecting 18 properties.
Evacuation Alerts exist in these areas:
- Puntzi Lake wildfire, northwest of Williams Lake, affecting 20 homes.
- Tsulquate Creek wildfire, northwest of Port Hardy, affecting 100 homes.
- Sitkum Creek wildfire, north of Kootenay Lake, affecting 350 homes.
- Two Alerts for the wildfire in the Harrogate area, north of Highway 95, between Harrogate and Brisco, affecting 50 homes.
- Petitot River wildfire, northeast of Fort Nelson, affecting an oil and gas camp.
States of local emergency for wildfires exist in the following areas:
- Northern Rockies Regional Municipality.
- Regional District of East Kootenay (2).
- Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.
- Sunshine Coast Regional District.
- Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District.
- Cariboo Regional District.
For all current Evacuation Alerts and Orders in B.C., see: www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca
BC Wildfire Service resources deployed:
The BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) has responded to 941 wildfires so far this season. Over 1,000 of B.C.’s firefighters are fully deployed throughout the province, and over 600 contract firefighters are helping to fight fires. Also 63 sustained action firefighters and seven other personnel from Ontario remain in the province to provide support.
Penalties for open burning:
Failure to abide by the Wildfire Act, including open burning restrictions, can result in a $345 fine, an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, a fine of up to $100,000 and/or one year in jail.
Wildfire smoke advisories and air quality status:
The Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with regional health authorities, has issued Air Quality Advisories in several areas of the province - including the Sunshine Coast, Sea-to-Sky Corridor, Fort St. John, East Coast of Vancouver Island, Southern Interior, Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. The air quality has improved in most parts of the province, though fine particulate matter concentrations continue to be variable. The advisories are expected to remain in place until weather conditions change.
Wildfire Smoke Advisories have been issued for these areas:
- Sea-to-Sky Corridor and surrounding areas, from Howe Sound through Squamish and Whistler to Pemberton and surrounding areas.
- Sunshine Coast and surrounding areas affecting Powell River to Gibsons/Langdale
- Fort St. John and surrounding areas.
- East Coast of Vancouver Island from Comox to Cowichan Valley, including the interior community of Port Alberni.
- Metro Vancouver.
- Fraser Valley.
- Smoky Skies Advisories have also been issued for most of the Southern Interior.
For information on current air quality readings in B.C. please visit: www.bcairquality.ca
Martin Mars water bomber
Government has signed a one-month contract with the Coulson Group for the use of the Martin Mars airtanker which is effective July 10, 2015. The contract includes a provision for a one-month extension. The airtanker will be stationed at Sproat Lake - due to its size the Martin Mars can only land on and scoop up water from about 113 water bodies in B.C. as opposed to the 1,700 water bodies that our amphibious scoopers can access. The Martin Mars is not suitable for steep terrain. We will only use it in situations where it is safe to do so.
For more information on the Martin Mars and B.C.’s air tanker fleet, see: https://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/factsheet-bcs-airtanker-fleet-and-the-martin-mars
Provincial Parks affected by campfire bans and area restrictions and Provincial Parks or Park Areas closed due to wildfire:
BC Parks is now providing detailed updates on important park closures and campfire bans as well as general information about current Provincial Park conditions. Updated information can be found by visiting the BC Parks website at: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/campfire_bans.html
Restrictions, evacuations and closures of provincial parks in B.C. may occur at any time due to rapid changes in conditions and circumstances. Before you leave, consult the BC Wildfire website (bcwildfire.ca) or contact the Wildfire Management Branch Wildfire hotline (bcwildfire.ca) for updates on wildfires.
Support for B.C.’s firefighters:
People can now show their support and appreciation for the efforts of the firefighters and emergency personnel currently braving B.C.’s wildfires. The site provides a forum for B.C. citizens to leave messages of support and also allows for firefighters to respond to messages.
To leave a message of thanks or support for the men and women currently battling the wildfires throughout the province please visit: https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/pscripts/pab/fordisc/view_discussion.asp?TopicID=40
Report all wildfires:
Human-caused wildfires are preventable and the public is B.C.’s first line of defence against wildfires. Please be diligent when in the backcountry, and report all wildfires to 1 800 663-5555 or *5555 on your mobile phone.
- Since April 1, 2015, B.C. has reported 941 fires, more than double the 439 wildfires reported in the same time period in 2014.
- Failure to report a fire can result in a fine of up to $173.
- Anyone who causes damage to Crown forest or grass land through arson or recklessness can be fined up to $1 million or spend up to three years in prison.
- If a contravention of the Wildfire Act causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.
Help prevent wildfires and learn what to do to plan and respond to an Evacuation Alert or Order, visit: http://ow.ly/PoFVn
The Homeowner’s FireSmart Manual helps inform people on how to reduce the risk of personal property damage due to wildfires: http://ow.ly/PfpqL
To keep up-to-date on Emergency Alerts & notices, follow @EmergencyInfoBC (mobile.twitter.com) on Twitter.
For wildfire information:
BC Wildfire Services
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
For air quality questions:
Ministry of Environment