Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Province declares State of Emergency as Wildfires continue to consume British Columbia forests

With pressure building on the BC Government from communities across the Interior over the last week, the NDP government declared a Provincial State of Emergency today, part of the province wide response to the ongoing wildfire situation, most of which is burning swaths of forest from Williams Lake south to the US border.

The Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth outlined the details to the declaration today (see video above), noting how it was based on the recommendation from the BC Wildfire Service.

“Public safety is always our first priority, and as wildfire activity is expected to increase, this is a progressive step in our wildfire response to make sure British Columbia has access to extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act. In a briefing last night, I received word that we’ll be facing a few days of very difficult weather in the Interior. This declaration will address the potential of a mass evacuation scenario and provide our government with the means to secure the accommodation spaces necessary to house our citizens, if necessary.”

The BC Wildfire Service Dashboard as of 3PM Tuesday July 20

As of July 20th, there were 299 wildfires burning across the province, with 40 evacuation orders in place, along with another 59 evacuation alerts issued.

The full statement can be reviewed here.

With the State of Emergency issued and going into effect at Midnight tonight, both the Premier and MLA Jennifer Rice, who is also the Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparation relayed the advisory through their social media feeds.

The Premiers' update getting a bit more reaction from the public than that of the MLA's at the moment.

That commentary for Mr. Horgan, somewhat reflective of some of the concerns that have been expressed by community leaders in the fire zones who have been urging the province to expand on their efforts from the last few weeks.

The majority of the focus is on the interior regions for the moment, with the wildfire situation in the Northwest for the most part being handled well to date.

You can review some of the notes on the Northwest situation from our archive page here.

You can access the full overview of the provincial situation here

For notes on the provincial situation see our D'Arcy McGee blog items from our Victoria Viewpoints archive.

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