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BC  

Fire budget 'laughable'

UPDATE: 11:45 a.m.

Premier John Horgan says successive governments have budgeted "laughable" amounts of money to fight wildfires that are becoming all too common.

Horgan was flanked by the federal defence minister, the mayor of Prince George and a First Nations chief in Prince George as he said the sky in the northern city had turned jet black earlier in the day from fires burning in nearby communities.

The premier says wildfires have prompted an unprecedented second state of emergency in the province in the last 12 months, after floods this spring, but he's confident there's enough contingency in the budget to provide the needed support.

Horgan travelled to the Central Interior to meet with first responders who are fighting some of the more than 500 wildfires burning across the province.

More than 2,000 evacuees are in Prince George after being ordered out because of an 850-square-kilometre blaze threatening an area from Fraser Lake to Fort St. James.

Horgan is also expected to travel to Burns Lake, where three out-of-control fires have prompted evacuation orders and alerts to the east, south and southwest of that village.


ORIGINAL: 9 a.m.

Premier John Horgan is to travel to the Central Interior to meet with first responders who are fighting some of the more than 500 wildfires burning across the province.

Horgan is to make a stop in Prince George, where shelter has been arranged for more than 2,000 evacuees ordered out because of an 850-square-kilometre blaze threatening an area from Fraser Lake to Fort St. James.

The premier is also expected to travel to Burns Lake, where three out-of-control fires have forced evacuation orders and alerts to the east, south and southwest of that village.

The BC Wildfire Service says 1,925 wildfires have charred 6,121 square kilometres of timber and bush since April 1.

In the Okanagan Valley, crews have been mainly mopping up following aggressive wildfires that broke out in early July, but a new fire has forced the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen to issue an evacuation alert northwest of Summerland.

The latest order affects 14 properties and Darke Lake Provincial Park, areas that were under alert last month because of a different blaze.

Officials in Okanagan-Similkameen thanked affected residents for their understanding.

"We can appreciate how the high activity of wildfires and the amount of smoke in the area can make residents feel uneasy. We want to thank all residents for preparations and patience during this time," the regional district said in a news release Monday.

Environment Canada is maintaining air-quality advisories for all but a small section of northwestern B.C., advising that fine grit pumped into the air by the flames creates health hazards for the very young, the elderly and anyone with a heart or lung ailment.

The air-quality health index provided by the B.C. government shows health risks from the smoky air had fallen by Tuesday morning when compared with off-the-scale readings posted for about one dozen B.C. communities on Monday.

Eight regions, including several on Vancouver Island, the Fraser Valley and parts of Metro Vancouver, were still ranked as having conditions with a high to very high health risk.

Environment Canada doesn't expect the smoke to lift until later in the week when a new weather system is expected to push cleaner air across the province.



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