The provincial government has declared a state of emergency over British Columbia’s current wildfires.
The announcement was made on Tuesday afternoon by Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.
“We have reached a critical point,” Farnworth stressed. “Based on the advice of emergency management and wildfire officials and my briefing last night on the worsening weather, I am declaring a provincial state of emergency.”
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A state of emergency will address and plan for a mass evacuation scenario, and, if needed, will allow the government to secure the accommodation spaces necessary to support evacuees.
“This provincial state of emergency will take effect at midnight tonight,” the minister added. “It is my hope that extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act will not be necessary, but putting the declaration in place now gives us the ability to move quickly if that need arises.”
As of July 20, the provincial government says that there are 299 wildfires burning in the province. There are 40 evacuation orders currently affecting 5,724 people and 2,862 properties. Additionally, 69 evacuation alerts are in place, affecting an additional 32,076 people.
A state of emergency is initially in effect for 14 days once it’s issued. It can then be extended or rescinded as needed.