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More than 456,000 hectares of B.C. burned so far this year

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July 29, 2021 - 2:50 PM

More than 1,250 wildfires in B.C. have burned more than 456,000 hectares of the province so far this year but more crews are on the way to help B.C. with wildfire season.

"The 10-year average for this time is 658 fires and about 106,000 hectares burned. There are currently 245 active wildfires in B.C. and 36 of those are what we consider wildfires of note,” said Rob Schweitzer, director of fire centre operations with the B.C. Wildfire Service, during a live-streamed press conference Thursday, July 29.

This week, the number of daily emissions has subsided and the total number of wildfires that are currently burning has decreased. Partners from across Canada, Mexico and the Canadian Armed Forces have arrived and are assisting with wildfires in the province. Australian firefighters have arrived in Canada and are currently being assigned to tasks today, he said.

Today and tomorrow are expected to be hot and dry and while this has been a stable week, fresh air in the Interior will bring that short-lived increase in fire growth, Schweitzer said.

“The improved visibility is a welcome shift to our aviation teams who have been significantly hampered in their ability to conduct operations,” he said, adding the service also anticipates lightning this weekend so crews will be monitoring for new fire starts.

With smoky skies hampering air efforts, priority has been placed on ground crews to ensure they are getting rest and staying hydrated, especially because of the length of this wildfire season, he said.

"Following the 2017, and 2018 wildfire seasons, there was a strong recent recognition on working with communities to reduce the amount of forest fuels," he said in response to a UBC report published today on wildfires stating thousands could die and billions could be spent if government responses to wildfire doesn't change.

There isn’t one option that solves all the problems, with climate change and the pine beetle epidemic over the last 10 years, "we need to look at how we mange these unhealthy forests with the pests and changing climates," he said.

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