Wind Worries for B.C. Wildfire Service
Prince George, B.C.- “The next day, day and a half, are going to be critical in terms of the weather, and we are getting our crews and resources in place to respond as best we can.” Those are the words of Kevin Skrepnek, Chief Information Officer with the BC Wildfire Service.
It’s all because of a cold front that is moving into the province, and Skrepnek says the wind is expected to gust to up to 80 kilometers per hour in some areas “That is going to be lasting throughout today and overnight into Saturday.”
He says the weather system is going to lead to an increase in activity and likely growth on existing fires.
Fire fighting crews have been preparing for the situation by reinforcing guards around the fires, the largest of which is the Hanceville- Riske creek blaze, which is now estimated to be 218,000 hectares in size. The Elephant Hill fire is estimated at 168 thousand hectares.
There have already been 7 new fires reported today, in addition to the four new fires that were started yesterday. That brings the total number of fires burning in the Province to 140, and the number of hectares burned is now 902 thousand.
Earlier today, the Province announced it was extending the State of Emergency in B.C. for another two weeks.
Meantime, many of the seasonal workers with the B.C. Wildfire Service are making plans to head back to school and the number of out of Province firefighters has dipped. Right now there are 622 out of Province fire fighters battling the blazes. Skrepnek says replacements will be found “That number ( out of province resources) has fluctuated up and down, as some crews are demobilized and other crews arrive. I expect it is going to get back up into that 770, 750 mark we’ve been at for a while now. In terms of the loss of the seasonal workers, that is an issue we face every year, obviously this year, given the level of activity it’s a concern, We are currently looking at about 30 to 4 percent of our seasonal firefighters are going to beheading back to school for the Labour Day long weekend. So, we are going to continue to look to out of province for resources we are going to continue to leverage the forestry fire crews that we can get access to, we do have the Canadian Armed forces assisting right now.”