The 2023 wildfire season is officially the most expensive and destructive on record.
According to the British Columbia Wildfire Service (BCWS), a total of 2,217 fires have been detected this year, burning almost 25,000 square kilometers of trees, shrubs and grasslands. That makes it the worst scorched earth season in British Columbia, easily surpassing the previous record of 13,540 square kilometers in 2018.
The cost of fighting those fires has also increased significantly, to about $770 million, up from $649 million spent in 2017.
The majority of fires this year (about 71 percent) have been caused by lightning, while 23 percent are man-made, according to the fire service.
Underlying drought conditions made BC particularly susceptible to wildfires this year, as dry conditions made it easier for flames to spread.
Many fires continue to burn, although the service says colder temperatures are helping to relieve pressure on crews.
Lifting of bans and evacuations
Across most of British Columbia, the fire danger index has dropped to low or very low as cool, wet fall weather arrives.
The BCWS says there have been no new fires in the past 24 hours, and of the 384 active fires burning in BC, about three-quarters are classified as under control or “on hold,” meaning they are not likely to break out. spread
Six notable, highly visible or potentially threatening wildfires are still included, four of them at or on either side of the Prince George Fire Centre, which covers the northeastern quarter of British Columbia.
The other two are the 174-square-kilometer Kookipi Creek Fire just north of Boston Bar in Fraser Canyon and the 168-square-kilometer Hell Raving Creek Fire in the western Cariboo.
The colder conditions mean all open fire bans, including a ban on campfires, were lifted on Wednesday at the Coastal Fire Center and the Cassiar, Skeena and Bulkley areas of the North West Fire Centre, while the Center Kamloops Fire Rescue will lift its campfire ban Thursday.
Bans remain in effect in some parts of the country. Prince George Fire Center.
Evacuation orders lifted in West Kelowna
Evacuation orders and alerts were also lifted for all but one property in West Kelowna, British Columbia, about five weeks after thousands of people were forced from their homes by the fast-moving McDougall Creek wildfire.
Central Okanagan Emergency Operations says BCWS crews are now patrolling the edge of the fire, working to extinguish any remaining hot spots, but warns that nearby communities can expect to see smoke within the perimeter in the coming weeks.
The 139-square-kilometre McDougall Creek Fire tore through West Kelowna on the afternoon of August 17, engulfing residential streets that were evacuated with little time to spare.
The next day a state of emergency was declared across the province, as the same winds that fueled the fire fanned the fires in the Shuswap region.
About half of the 400 structures or homes destroyed in British Columbia’s record fire season have been lost in the Kelowna area.
The Central Okanagan Center also announced it is rescinding evacuation alerts and downgrading evacuation orders for the 11-square-kilometer Glen Lake wildfire west of Peachland.
The Thompson-Nicola Regional District Emergency Operations Center announced it has rescinded all 124 remaining evacuation alerts in the vicinity of the 180-square-mile Bush Creek East wildfire, which destroyed nearly 200 structures in the Shuswap.