2017 Wildfire Season Second Worst on Record
Prince George, B.C. – This summer’s wildfire season is shaping up to be one of the most catastrophic in provincial history.
Kevin Skrepnek, chief fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service, said to date fires have burnt 491,000 hectares in B.C. – the second highest in recorded history.
He said we just passed the second worst season – 1961 – when there was just over 483,000 hectares burned.
Skrepnek said we’re still a way off from the worst season – 1958 – when fires scorched over 855,000 hectares.
He said it’s too early to say if we might eclipse that mark this year.
“I don’t want to speculate at this point given that we do still have all of August ahead of us and there’s potential for activity out there.”
Skrepnek also provided an update on the Elephant Hill fire north of Cache Creek and west of Clinton, noting it’s reached 93,100 hectares in size while remaining just 30 per cent contained.
He said over 600 personnel are fighting the blaze, including 400 firefighters and 90 pieces of heavy equipment.
In addition to that, Skrepnek confirmed the province continues to blow the budget when it comes to the cost of fighting wildfires.
The budget coming into this season was $63 million and to date the Province has spent $204 million.
However, it’s still nowhere near the $382 million spent fighting fires in 2009, the $375 million spent in 2003 and the $297 million spent in 2014.
But Skrepnek noted the late start to the fire season this year is skewing the numbers.
“We had a fairly quiet spring. We weren’t seeing significant fire activity until the last week of June and then into July,” he said.
“So, up until that point there wasn’t a whole lot happening in terms of the number of fires or money being spent.”