The largest fire ever recorded in BC’s history is still burning as hundreds of firefighters continue to battle it.
And it is just one of many current blazes across the province.
Known as the Plateau fire, the massive blaze is located on the Chilcotin Plateau, about 60 kms northwest of Williams Lake and 60 kms west of Quesnel.
Speaking from Williams Lake on Tuesday, BC Wildfire Service fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said so far, this single blaze has burned an area of 4,675 sq. kms. – close to 41 times the size of the city of Vancouver.
“The next largest fire that we can find on record is in the neighbourhood of the high 200,000 [hectare range],” he said, which is about 2,000 sq. kms. “And of course, this fire still has potential for growth.”
The fire itself is comprised of 19 smaller fires that have merged together in the North Cariboo region.
Despite the challenging situation, Skrepnek said there was some good news to be had: Thanks to a “hard work on the ground” and “more cooperative” weather, the size of the fire seems to be somewhat contained – at least for now.
“There’s lots of smoke, but limited spread,” he said.
A total of 416 firefighters are currently battling the blaze, with the assistance of 28 helicopters and 92 pieces of “heavy equipment.”
The Plateau fire is one of 134 wildfires currently burning across the province, including four new ones that started on Monday, Skrepnek noted.
Since April 1, firefighters have responded to a total of 1,068 fires across the province.
When all blazes are combined, the wildfires have burned an estimated total of 10,220 sq. kms. This is equivalent to an area 89 times the city of Vancouver, 3.5 times the size of the entire Metro Vancouver region, and one-third the size of Vancouver Island.
“This is the highest area of land burned the we’ve ever had in the province’s history – stretching back to 1912 – which is the earliest year we’ve got records on-hand for,” he said.
“There’s still potential for that number to increase,” said Skrepnek.
He added that all of these factors make 2017 the worst fire season on record.