State of emergency declared across B.C. as 566 fires burn

State of emergency declared across B.C. as 566 fires burn

British Columbia declared a province-wide state of emergency Wednesday as Canada's military joined firefighters in trying to douse 556 wildfires burning across the craggy region.

The state of emergency is initially in effect for 14 days, once issued, and may be extended or rescinded as necessary.

"The state of emergency applies to the whole province and ensures federal, provincial and local resources can be delivered in a co-ordinated response to protect the public, which remains the provincial government's top priority", reads a news release from the province.

Wildfires have burned close to 400,000 hectares of British Columbia so far this year, making 2018 the fourth-largest fire season since 1950, data from the BC Wildfire service shows.

During the 2017 wildfire season, B.C. was in a provincial state of emergency for 10 weeks, from July 7 to September 15.

The federal government said on Monday it would deploy help in the form of aircraft and hundreds of soldiers to aid British Columbia in its firefighting efforts, according to The Star Vancouver.

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The BC Wildfire Service said 559 fires were burning Wednesday in all corners of the province, with 31 new starts since Tuesday.

It is only the second time in more than a decade that it has been used, after a record fire season past year that blackened vast tracts of forest and prompted record numbers of residents to evacuate. Last year, B.C. was in a provincial state of emergency for 10 weeks. The forecast is calling for more hot and dry conditions, with a risk of thunderstorms in some parts of the province.

Twenty-nine evacuation orders are in place affecting over 3,000 people in the province.

There are also 48 evacuation alerts that have 18,720 people across the province ready to leave their homes at a moment's notice. Skrepnek said majority would likely be sent to the Okanagan to help with wildfire mop-up.

There are more than 3,372 firefighters and contractors fighting fires all over the province, including hundreds of national and worldwide personnel from Alberta, New Brunswick, Mexico and New Zealand.

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