2023 officially the most costly, destructive wildfire season on record in B.C.

No new fires in past 24 hours as cool weather reduces risk: B.C. Wildfire Service

The 2023 wildfire season is officially the most expensive and most destructive on record.

According to the B.C. Wildfire Service (BCWS), a total of 2,217 fires have been detected this year, burning almost 25,000 square kilometres of trees, bush and grassland. That makes it B.C.'s worst season by land burned, easily surpassing the previous record of 13,540 square kilometres in 2018.

The cost of fighting those fires is also significantly up, to approximately $770 million, more than the $649 million spent in 2017.

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On Thursday, the B.C. government said higher-than-projected costs to fight wildfires had contributed an additional $2.5 billion to the province's projected deficit for this fiscal year.

The majority of this year's fires — approximately 71 per cent — have been sparked by lightning, while 23 per cent are human-caused, the fire service says.

CBC: The Tatuk Lake wildfire led to expanded evacuation orders in northern B.C. on Friday. (B.C. Wildfire Service)

File photo. (BC Wildfire Service/X)

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Underlying conditions of drought made B.C. particularly susceptible to wildfires this year, as tinder-dry conditions made it easier for flames to spread.

Many fires are still burning, though the service says cooler temperatures are helping ease pressure on crews.

Bans and evacuations lifting

Across most of B.C., the fire danger rating has dropped to low or very low as cool, damp fall weather arrives.

The BCWS says there have been no new fires in the last 24 hours, and of the 384 active fires burning in B.C., roughly three-quarters are ranked as under control or "being held," meaning they are not likely to spread.

Six wildfires of note — highly visible or potentially threatening blazes — are still listed, with four of them either in or straddling the Prince George Fire Centre spanning B.C.'s northeast quarter.

The two others are the 174-square-kilometre Kookipi Creek fire just north of Boston Bar in the Fraser Canyon, and the 168-square-kilometre Hell Raving Creek fire in the west Cariboo.

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fall-colours-montreal/CBC / Radio-Canada

Wetter and cooler fall weather is reducing the fire risk in B.C. (CBC / Radio-Canada)

Cooler conditions mean all open fire prohibitions, including a ban on campfires, lifted on Wednesday in the Coastal Fire Centre and Cassiar, Skeena and Bulkley zones of the Northwest Fire Centre, while the Kamloops Fire Centre is set to remove its campfire ban on Thursday.

Bans remain in place in parts of the Prince George Fire Centre.

Evacuation orders lifted in West Kelowna

Evacuation orders and alerts have also been lifted for all but one property in West Kelowna, B.C., about five weeks after thousands were forced out of their homes by the fast-moving McDougall Creek wildfire.

Central Okanagan Emergency Operations says BCWS crews are now patrolling the fire's edge, working to extinguish any remaining hot spots, but it warns that nearby communities can expect to see smoke within the perimeter in the coming weeks.

glen-lake/BC Wildfire Service

Firefighters at the Glen Lake wildfire, six kilometres west of Peachland. (BC Wildfire Service)

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The 139-square-kilometre McDougall Creek fire swept down on West Kelowna on the evening of Aug. 17, engulfing residential streets that were evacuated with little time to spare.

A provincewide state of emergency was declared the next day, as the same winds that fuelled that blaze fanned fires in the Shuswap region.

About half of the 400 structures or homes destroyed in B.C.'s record-breaking fire season have been lost in the Kelowna area.

The Central Okanagan centre also announced it is rescinding evacuation alerts and downgrading evacuation orders for the 11-square-kilometre Glen Lake wildfire west of Peachland.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District Emergency Operations Centre announced it has rescinded all 124 remaining evacuation alerts in the vicinity of the 456-square-kilometre Bush Creek East wildfire, which destroyed almost 200 structures in the Shuswap.

WATCH: Unprecedented Canadian wildfire smoke travels all the way to Greenland

Thumbnail courtesy of Brady Strachan/CBC.

The story was originally written and published for CBC News. It contains files from Tom Popyk and The Canadian Press.