Two B.C. wildfire crews are set to return from Alberta at the end of this week.
An incident management team and a structure protection crew were sent to the neighbouring province about 10 days ago, and will be coming back before the weekend in preparation for next week, BC Wildfire Service operations director Cliff Chapman told reporters during an update at the Kamloops Fire Centre Tuesday (May 16).
“They asked for assistance from the rest of Canada, they continue to ask for assistance from the rest of Canada and even the United States and beyond.”
Chapman said the teams were sent on 14-day deployments, adding that B.C. still has two incident management teams available and ready to deploy, if needed.
“We don’t make decisions like that without factoring in what this province may face for the next 14 days. Losing resources to support another agency – and I think we all have seen what Alberta is going through – we use our advanced planning team. We knew this weather was coming and that’s why we didn’t send more.”
BC Wildfire Service and Environment Canada are preparing for the high-pressure ridge, which has been particularly bad in B.C.’s northeast, to come to a close on Victoria Day (May 22) but with that could come high winds and lightning.
Chapman added it doesn’t usually come with rain on the first day.
Officials are asking British Columbians to ensure they’re paying attention while they’re out in the province.
“We can’t afford to have human-caused fires with lightning coming in.”
Chapman, and Forest Minister Bruce Ralston provided an update on the wildfire situation, noting there have been 206 fires since Jan. 1 and 50,000 hectares burned so far. Most of the fire activity has been in the Prince George region, which has had 85 so far.
For the number of fires, Chapman said B.C. is on track for the 10-year average, which is 162.