Publication Date July 31, 2017

Wildfires burn in British Columbia

Suomi NPP satellite image taken of British Columbia on July 30, 2017 using the VIIRS instrument. The smoke from several wildfires burning across the province are visible. Image: NOAA, NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory

Hot and dry conditions in British Columbia have fueled the growth of numerous wildfires, which have burned thousands of acres across the province during the last month.

As of the end of July, there are over 130 different wildfires burning across British Columbia according to the British Columbia Wildfire Service. Luckily, evacuations due to the fires are down to around 6,000 people. At their peak in mid-July, that number topped 45,000 people, making the 2017 fire season one of the largest evacuation events in the province’s history, according to local government officials quoted in CBC news.

In total, 825 wildfires have burned over 105,000 acres in British Columbia since April—well above the ten-year average (2006-2015) of around 383,000 acres.  An analysis done by CBC news indicated that the 2017 fire season to date is third-largest (in terms of acres burned) since 1950 and is the worst in 56 years. Taking the human impacts into account, a fire information officer with the British Columbia Wildfire Service is quoted as saying that the current season is shaping up to be the one of the most severe seasons in recent years. 

Most recently, the Elephant Hill fire in British Columbia’s more rural interior blew up in size over the July 29-30 weekend, crossing the Bonaparte River and leading to another round of evacuation orders around the town of Clinton about 80 miles north of the city of Kamloops. The continued windy, hot, and dry conditions have provided little relief from Mother Nature as firefighters continue to fight blazes across the province.