Canada — The province of B.C. has spent $27.1 million so far this year on fighting forest fires, the majority of which have been caused by humans.
In a relatively quiet forest fire season, 23,000 hectares of land have burned across the province, compared to 47,000 hectares burnt by this time in 2009, Forests Minister Pat Bell told reporters Monday.
The province has also spent less than half of what it did on fighting forest fires last year, when $64.9 million had already been exhausted by this time.
But a much higher proportion of this year’s fires were started by humans. Firefighters blame people for 65 per cent of forest fires this year, compared to only 40 per cent in the same time period last year.
Campfire bans are now in place for most parts of the province, including parks as well as Crown and private lands.
“If you ignore a campfire ban, you will be fined $345. If your recklessness causes a wildfire, you could be fined up to $1 million or spend three years in prison and be held responsible for fire suppression costs,” Bell said.
He added that rain isn’t expected for most of B.C. in the near future, and the fire danger rating is high or extreme in most areas.
This July has been one of the driest on record, with only 0.6 mm of rain so far, compared to the average 33 mm.
Evacuation alert continues in Yalakom Valley
A wildfire in Yalakom Valley continued to grow Monday morning, spreading to consume 670 hectares.
A crew of 100 firefighters and eight helicopters have contained 15 per cent of fire, which was triggered by a lightning strike on July 21.
More than 85 residents in 20 homes remained on evacuation alert in the area, which is 30 kilometres northwest of Lillooet.