Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) reports that it’s monitoring the wildfire situation in British Columbia. RAC reports that acting British Columbia/Yukon Section Manager Bill Gipps, VE7XS, has advised that Amateur Radio Emergency Service teams have not yet been called out, and that the wildfire situation “has not become a communications event.” A state of emergency has been declared in Canada’s westernmost province. More than 180 wildfires are reported active in British Columbia.
“There are amateurs on the ground helping other organizations such as the Red Cross,” RAC reported. It’s been estimated that more than 7,000 people have been evacuated from fire-stricken communities, many now in shelters, and an undetermined number of homes have been destroyed.
British Columbia Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone, who oversees Emergency Management BC, announced a provincial state of emergency on July 7 to ensure a coordinated response to the current wildfire situation as well as public safety.
“Given the current wildfire situation and the expected increase in wildfire activity, the Province is taking this extraordinary measure of declaring a provincial state of emergency,” a statement said. “This is an urgent situation, and public safety is the top priority. The Province will continue to keep the public informed in this rapidly evolving situation.”
Under the state of emergency, agencies such as Emergency Management BC, the Fire Commissioner, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and the RCMP have authority to take every action necessary to fight the wildfires and ensure protection of residents and their communities.
Lightning ignited dozens of new wildfires throughout the province over the weekend, and additional evacuation alerts and orders have been issued for several communities. The extended weather forecast calls for continued hot and dry weather, with a risk of thunderstorms in many parts of the province. According to the CBC, wildfires burning out of control across the interior of British Columbia have prompted the evacuation of at least one airport, two hospitals, an entire town and hundreds more homes throughout the region.
The last provincial declaration of state of emergency was issued in August 2003, also in response to wildfires.