A report from British Columbia's fire commissioner says there were 86 deaths due to fires in the province last year, a toll that has tripled in three years.
The report says there were more than 9,000 fires last year, and that a working fire alarm was present in only 45 per cent of blazes that occurred in homes.
B.C. Fire Commissioner Brian Godlonton pointed to a number of factors contributing to the increase in fire injuries and deaths including an aging population, homelessness encampments, working from home due to COVID-19 and increasing population density in rural areas.
The B.C. government has announced it will provide $1.6 million for a new campaign to educate people about proper smoke-alarm use and reducing the risk of fires.
The government and Statistics Canada have also created a dashboard to provide statistical and geographical information on fires in B.C. that is expected to be rolled out across the province in the coming weeks.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says in a statement that the fire deaths represent an "alarming trend," and a working smoke alarm is a critical tool for saving lives.