Vancouver – BC’s 600 active wildfires have covered the Lower Mainland skies with smoke forcing Metro Vancouver to issue an air quality advisory.
The wildfire situation has also resulted in the BC government calling for federal help with more personnel and air lift capability.
“People with chronic underlying medical conditions should postpone strenuous exercise until the advisory is over. Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have diabetes, lung or heart disease” the advisory says.
While the air quality is still not as bad as some parts of BC where residents face a rain of black ash, the concern is that people with chronic illnesses could be severely impacted in the Lower Mainland.
With many weeks remaining in the wildfire situation, the province is asking the federal government to contribute resources.
“This is an urgent situation, and the safety of British Columbians is our highest priority,” Public Safety minister Mike Farnworth said.
“Due to the increase in the number of wildfires affecting communities and the extreme wildfire behaviour we are seeing, we’re asking for federal assistance for additional resources that may be needed to protect the public, property and infrastructure.”
As of the morning of Monday, Aug. 13, there were 27 evacuation orders affecting approximately 3,100 people (1,537 properties), in addition to 43 evacuation alerts impacting approximately 17,900 people (8,909 properties).
More than 3,400 dedicated wildfire personnel are responding to some 600 wildfires currently burning in all areas of the province, he said.
This includes BC Wildfire Service crews, contractors, municipal firefighters, industry personnel and out-of-province crews from throughout Canada, as well as Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.
“We’re bringing in the additional resources we need to keep people and communities as safe as possible,” said forests minister Doug Donaldson said.
BC is asking for the following resources from the federal government.
• 200 self-sufficient personnel to perform the mop-up and patrol of contained fires, under the supervision of the BC Wildfire Service. The BC Wildfire Service will provide the required personal protective equipment, firefighting equipment and incremental training as required for these tasks.
• Heavy-lift aircraft to reposition wildfire crews and equipment to new fire starts that threaten communities. These aircraft will assist with the resupply of existing operations (fire camps, air bases, etc.), which will permit BC Wildfire Service aircraft to be directed to the firefighting effort from resupply tasks.
• Aircraft for emergency transport of injured personnel and to help evacuate people in remote areas, should evacuation routes be compromised.