3rd-worst fire year ever

Colton Davies

This wildfire season has quickly become one of the most devastating on record in B.C.

As of Friday, fires had torn through just over 568,000 hectares in the province since April 1, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service, making this now the third-worst fire season on record.

The extreme fire season follows last year's record-setting burn of more than 1.2 million hectares. The only other year worse than 2018, since 1950, was in 1958 when 856,000 hectares burned.

After a relatively normal start to the fire year, activity in much of B.C. has escalated greatly this month which resulted in a provincial state of emergency being declared on Wednesday.

Between Wednesday and Friday alone, the total area burned in B.C. jumped by about 200,000 hectares. By comparison, the infamous 2003 fire season saw about 265,000 hectares burn altogether.

Fire information officer Kyla Fraser points out, however, the new provincial estimate doesn't necessarily mean that much has burned in two days.

"A lot of this was probably occurring when there was a lot of smoke over those fires, so we just weren't able to accurately map them," Fraser says. "Although it seems like a very large hectare jump on some of these fires, that doesn't necessarily mean the growth didn't occur over a day or two."

On Saturday afternoon there were 53 wildfires "of note" burning around the province. Twelve of those are in the Northwest Fire Centre, where fires have burned more than 300,000 hectares.

The Kamloops Fire Centre, which encompasses the Okanagan, has seen much less devastation in terms the amount of hectares burned than some areas of the province. As of Friday, just under 30,000 hectares had burned.

In the next few days, Fraser says officials aren't expecting lightning or any significant wind events.

"Things are just expected to remain smoky and dry, but unfortunately no rain is in the forecast either which is what we would really need to see some relief from the situation."

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