B.C. forest fire bill growing

B.C. forest fire bill growing

14 August 2010

published by www.vancouversun.com

Canada — The cost of fighting B.C. forest fires this year is about to hit $100 million as predicted hot, dry weather in the days ahead is anticipated to make conditions even more conducive for fires.

Provincial fire information officer Alyson Couch said Friday that $98.8 million had been spent to date, almost twice the budget estimate of $52 million.

A B.C. workforce of 2,118 along with another 560 from out of province have been deployed on the fires so far, working on everything from finance to firefighting duties.

The province has responded to 1,396 fires since April 1, including 261 blazes that were still burning Friday.

The fire danger rating is high to extreme in much of the province, reduced to moderate to low in some regions due to recent cooler and wetter weather, including in the northeast, southeast and southern Interior.

The hazard ratings are expected to increase in number with hot weather predicted for the next week, Couch said.

Only one evacuation order was in place in the province, Friday, affecting about 10 people close to Pelican Lake northwest of Quesnel, where a fire has turned aggressive recently with significant smoke. Evacuation alerts remain in place for the Bull Canyon and Meldrum Creek fires, west of Williams Lake in the Cariboo Regional District.

Meldrum Creek was the provincial hot spot, with a series of fires that so far have consumed 35,691 hectares.

A workforce of 444, including 370 firefighters, is dedicated to that blaze. Containment levels of the Meldrum Creek fires range from about 10 to 70 per cent.

Campfire bans remain in effect, except for the southeast fire region. Officials have issued 110 warnings and 87 violation tickets at $345 apiece for campfire violations.

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