The cost of fighting forest fires in British Columbia already exceeds $ 95 million for 2021 – before peak fire season begins – .

The cost of fighting forest fires in British Columbia already exceeds $ 95 million for 2021 – before peak fire season begins – .

The BC Wildfire Service has spent over $ 95.4 million on firefighting this season, which is over 70% of its annual budget allocated before peak fire season begins.
The Forestry Department provided the figures in a statement to CBC News on Wednesday. The total fire department budget allocated for the 2021 fire season is $ 136 million.

“This number is only an estimate,” said British Columbia’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development.

“The fire management situation is constantly changing, and that total will change. “

More than 200 active wildfires were burning in British Columbia as of Wednesday morning, 18 of which have broken out in the past two days.

“The government of British Columbia will always spend whatever it takes to protect people and property,” the statement said.

By comparison, the province spent $ 193.7 million to fight forest fires in 2020. The 10-year average cost is about $ 265 million.

In 2017, during one of the worst seasons in the province’s history, British Columbia spent $ 649 million.

As of Tuesday, 734 wildfires have been reported in British Columbia, compared to the 10-year average of 403 starts. Some 90,000 hectares have already burned, compared to an average of 27,000 hectares.

So far this year, 350 fires are believed to be caused by human activity, including the devastating Lytton fire, compared to 282 fires caused by lightning.

Late summer is usually the high point of the fire fighting season as dry weather conditions solidify in the interior and southeast and thunderstorms increase in frequency.

Enforcement of the campfire ban

Meanwhile, the province is promising to enforce the fire ban regulations until this summer and may recoup some firefighting costs for any forest fires caused by negligence.

The BC Conservation Officer Service said it had fined $ 25,300 for violations of the campfire ban during the Canada Day long weekend July 1-4.

Twenty-two notes, valued at $ 1,150 each, were issued across British Columbia. The regions with the most tickets were the South Coast and the Kootenays.

Campfires were banned from June 30 at noon.

Recovering from a fire costs a long process

Anyone found responsible for causing a forest fire could also be ordered to pay all firefighting costs and associated costs, and face administrative fines.

The British Columbia Ministry of Forests reports that the government imposed nearly $ 8.7 million in fire suppression costs and $ 118,750 in penalties between 2013 and 2018.

After the 2016 fire season, 17 fires were found to be negligent, resulting in a record $ 4.7 million in recovered costs.

But the process often takes years to resolve as cases go through regulatory appeals and the civilian court system.

There are currently at least seven cases on appeal.


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