"Never been more concerned": former wildfire service spokesperson says of next 36 hours

Aug 15 2021, 3:31 pm

A former information officer for the BC Wildfire Service says he has “never been more concerned” by the wildfire situation in the province.

Kevin Skrepnek took to social media late on Saturday night to warn of the “volatile” circumstances that are to come.

“In my career, I have never been more concerned than I am for what this province will face in the next 36 hours,” Skrepnek tweeted.

“There is the chance of (some) rain for a few areas by Sunday night/Monday, but between then and now we will have to navigate one of the most volatile combinations of natural and human factors that many of us have ever seen.”

Currently the emergency program coordinator for the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, Skrepnek spent over eight years as an information officer with the BC Wildfire Service.

He said the “unprecedented” wildfire season, BC’s second major heat wave of the summer, and the fourth wave of the pandemic have all emerged in a single “critical period.”

Barring a “complete and unseasonal” shift in the weather, there is still at least another month of wildfire activity to come.

Skrepnek urged anyone living in high-risk areas to have a plan in place and be prepared to leave should an evacuation order be made.

“If you live ‘beyond Hope,’ please have a plan, a tank full of gas, and a backup plan,” Skrepnek said.

“If you feel like your safety is at risk, don’t wait to be told by authorities to leave.”

According to the BC Wildfire Service, there are currently 268 wildfires burning across the province, including six that began in the last two days.

Thirty are listed as “wildfires of note,” meaning they are either highly visible or pose a potential threat to public safety, and 133 are considered “out of control.”

Since the start of the 2021 wildfire season, there have been 1,506 fires in BC.

“We need to be prepared, we need to be present, and we need to be patient,” Skrepnek said.

Zoe DemarcoZoe Demarco

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