Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth is expected to provide an update on the wildfire situation

State of Emergency

UPDATE: 3 p.m.

A significant sub-tropical weather event coming into the Interior of the province has prompted the government to declare a provincial state of emergency due to the ongoing wildfire risk.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth made the announcement during a media briefing this afternoon. The state of emergency takes effect at midnight tonight.

The announcement came as hundreds of fires burn across the province and questions swirl as to why the announcement took so long to come.

Farnworth dismissed claims the state of emergency was made as fires in the Oliver and Osoyoos area began impacting summer homes of people living in the Lower Mainland.

The decision, he says, was made following information he received last night concerning severe sub-tropical weather conditions coming from the south.

"The decision to go to the state of emergency has been based on advice I receive from the experts at BC Wildfire Service and EMBC," said Farnworth.

"Based on the briefing I had last night about the weather event we are facing and the potential for significant winds and dry lightning, and the potential for extremely aggressive fires as a result of that, the decision was made to put in the place the state of provincial emergency."

Farnworth says the measure will address the potential for mass evacuations, and provide the government with the means to secure the accommodation spaces necessary to support evacuees.

He says the state of emergency will allow the province to do everything necessary.

"It is my hope that extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act will not be necessary. But, putting the declaration on place gives us the ability to move quickly if that need arises."

UPDATE: 2:10 p.m.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has declared a provincial state of emergency due to the ongoing wildfire risk in the province.

It takes effect at midnight tonight.

BC Wildfire Service official Cliff Chapman says significant winds are expected to come from the south in the coming days which have the potential to increase wildfire activity.

To date, he says 300,000 hectares of timber have burned across the province during this wildfire season, about 200,000 more than the 10 year average.

More details to come.

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth is providing an update on the wildfire situation in the province.

Farnworth is being joined by officials from the BC Wildfire Service, Emergency Management BC, RCMP and public health.

More BC News