Canada’s British Columbia declares state of emergency due to wildfires

‘The situation is unpredictable right now and there are certainly difficult days ahead,’ premier David Eby said

The Canadian province of British Columbia, to the west of the country, has declared a state of emergency as a result of record-breaking wildfires, which are heading toward key population centres.

BC premier David Eby declared the emergency on Friday in order to marshal all available resources to battle the blazes. A similar decree had been made in Kelowna, the largest city in the province’s Okanagan Valley, known for its vineyards, orchards and ski hills. Flights at Kelowna International Airport were cancelled on Friday, after airspace surrounding the area was closed to allow aerial firefighting activity.

About 15,000 people are under evacuation orders in the province and tens of thousands more are under alert for possible evacuation, officials said at a news conference on Friday evening.

“The situation is unpredictable right now and there are certainly difficult days ahead,” Mr Eby said.


While the region is used to fires, British Columbia is experiencing the most destructive wildfire season on record, with an area nearly the size of New Jersey already burned.

Meanwhile, the entire population of the Northwest Territories capital of Yellowknife, about 22,000 people, continued to flee, with an evacuation deadline set for 12pm local time Friday. Officials for the territory, which declared a state of emergency earlier in the week, said that about 19,000 residents have been cleared from the city.

Climate change has made heat and drought more extreme, leading to more intense wildfires globally from Hawaii to the Greek island of Rhodes.

In Canada, the number of fires and the total area burned are both well above average for this time of year, having burned an area larger than Greece. Over the past few months, wildfires have disrupted oil and gas production in Alberta and sent choking smoke into Toronto, Ottawa and parts of the United States, including New York City. – Bloomberg