Canada’s British Columbia declares state of emergency

Written by on July 21, 2021

The Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) has declared a state of emergency amid a surge in wildfires that have forced hundreds of people from their homes and could worsen in the coming days.

According to a provincial wildfire tracker, 299 blazes were actively burning across BC including 18 that were sparked during the previous two days.

Mike Farnworth, BC’s minister of public safety, said during a news conference that more than 3,180 firefighters and other staff are fighting fires across the province.

He said more evacuations could be ordered as the weather forecast during the next few days may fuel the blazes. “We have reached a critical point,” Farnworth told reporters.

“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. This will address the potential for a mass-evacuation scenario and provide our government with the means to secure the accommodation spaces necessary to support evacuees.”

The state of emergency will last for at least 14 days and can be extended, the BC government said in a statement. Forty evacuation orders affecting approximately 5,724 people are currently in place, while 69 evacuation alerts – under which residents are told to be ready to leave their homes at a moment’s notice – affecting more than 32,000 people have also been issued.

Credit: Al Jazeera

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