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Canadian News | B.C. Wildfires

B.C. wildfires by the numbers: 5 things you need to know

Daksha Rangan
Digital Reporter

Thursday, July 20, 2017, 11:48 AM - The state of emergency remains in British Columbia as wildfires continue to threaten communities, pushing residents into evacuations centres.

With hot and dry conditions to persist for the foreseeable future (despite a bout of showers on Thursday for the Interior), firefighters won't be able to depend on the weather for reprieve while battling the more than 100 active fires currently burning. 

"We're crossing our fingers for any amount of rain on Thursday in the Interior, but unfortunately it looks like the Coastal Mountains are going to intercept most of it," The Weather Network meteorologist Kevin MacKay said.

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Here's a breakdown, by the numbers, of the impact caused by B.C.'s wildfires.

1) Another two weeks under a state of emergency

B.C. Premier John Horgan recently extended the state of emergency by two weeks. Initially, it was set to expire on midnight Friday; however, there are no signs of wildfire activity slowing down.

2) 300,000 hectares scorched

Dozens of "wildfires of note" — fires that are particularly visible or pose a threat to public safety — continue to burn across southern B.C. Many of these fires are larger than 2,000 hectares.

All active wildfires accounted for, The Weather Network meteorologist Erin Wenckstern notes that 300,000 hectares of land are currently ablaze.

Two wildfires that contribute largely to this figure are the Hanceville and Riske Creek fires (roughly 60 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake), and the Ashcroft Reserve fire.

The former is currently burning almost 100,000 hectares of land, BC Wildfire Service notes, and is 0 per cent contained. The Ashcroft Reserve fire is an estimated 52,600 hectares in size.

3) Multiple provinces affected by wildfire smoke

Smoke from the fires stretched eastward across much of the country earlier this week. As a result, Environment Canada issued a swath of special air quality statements stretching from B.C. into Manitoba. 

As of Thursday, the advisories are only in effect for B.C., and west-central Alberta.

In B.C., they were dropped briefly, but then re-issued, meaning most of the Interior has been under such an advisory for around a week.

The agency cautions that symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches, and/or shortness of breath may occur during this time.

4) More than 45,000 people forced to evacuate

It's estimated that over 45,000 people have been forced to flee their homes, Robert Turner, deputy minister for Emergency Management B.C. told CBC News.

Premier Horgan has also increased funds for communities affected. Initially, evacuees had a one-time payment of $600 per household. This has been increased to another $600 every 14 days they are away from their homes. 

"The resilience of British Columbia is very much showcased by the calm and collected courage of those evacuating and those responding to the fires," Stone told CBC News.

The surge in evacuees came after strong winds prompted an evacuation order for more than 10,000 residents of Williams Lake over the weekend. The number of evacuees is almost half that of the number of people displaced during the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire.

5) Roughly 3,000 firefighters deployed

Hundreds of firefighters have been deployed to several of B.C.'s current wildfires of note.

According to CBC News, roughly 3,000 firefighters make up the first responders battling B.C.'s wildfires.

-- With files from Leeanna McLean 

SOURCE: BC Wildfire Service | CTV

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