British Columbia wildfires this year are going to be the worst the province has ever seen.
In neighbouring Alberta, 5000 people were asked to evacuate due to the High Level wildfire which started on May 25. The smoke drifted towards Prince George, BC. According to the BC’s Air Quality Health Index, its rating is only a 5 so it should not be too bad for residents’ health, yet.
2017 was crazy for wildfires. Over 1300 fires throughout BC together destroyed 1.2 million hectares. The worst of the season occurred from April through November. The province broke a record for the longest state of emergency, lasting 10 weeks. 65,000 people had to leave their homes, often not knowing if they would be coming back. Firefighters arrived from around the country and around the world to help put out these blazing wildfires.
In 2018 it got even worse for BC. Scientists say that “a change in weather patterns driven by climate change has pushed things over the edge, bringing warmer, drier weather and more lightning to BC.”
When wildfires are starting this early, it is usually is caused by a combination of human activity in a context of climate change-influence conditions. Commonly, it’s people throwing a cigarette out on the road or in the forest and leaving it. Even when you put out your cigarette, it can still catch on fire again.
This 2019 season is expected to be again really busy and by the temperatures that we are already seeing it’s going to be ugly for firefighters, and wreak havoc on communities as well as anyone who has trouble breathing, such as those with asthma.
The wildfires right now in Alberta have finally slowed down and some people are returning to their homes, but must pay attention to possible evacuation alerts because wildfires can start at any moment. Communities are still on high alert.
Image credit: Shawn Cahill