300 000 hectares ablaze, more than 45 000 people evacuated, British Columbia

300 000 hectares ablaze, more than 45 000 people evacuated, British Columbia

Massive wildfires burning in Canada's British Columbia have so far scorched 300 000 hectares (741 316 acres) of land and forced more than 45 000 people to evacuate, close to a record set in 2003 when 50 000 people were forced to evacuate. The state of emergency remains in effect in the entire province.

The total number of people displaced by the fires in British Columbia is now estimated to 45 806, as of July 18, according to deputy ministry for Emergency Management B.C. As of the same date, there are 155 active fires in the province, including 15 significant blazes threatening communities.

"The total number of evacuated people has changed fairly significantly in the past 48 hours and that has to do primarily with getting better information from local government," he said, as quoted by the CBC. "It's becoming one of the largest displacement events in the history of the province."

The number of evacuations is now approaching the record set in 2003 when 50 000 people were forced out of their homes by a wildfire near Kelowna, CBC said.

There have been no significant evacuation orders or alerts since Saturday, July 15, when high winds caused several of the wildfires to flare up and spread aggressively.

"We've had a relatively calm few days," said information officer Kevin Skrepnek of the B.C. Wildfire Service. "That downturn in activity has been everything to do with the wind. Wind has been our most significant challenge."

All active wildfires accounted for, The Weather Network meteorologist Erin Wenckstern estimated that 300 000 hectares of land are currently ablaze. However, so far this year, 327 000 hectares (808 034 acres) have been burned by wildfires across the province, according to the wildfire service.

The largest fire is now the Hanceville-Riske complex, a series of smaller fires that have merged to create a 98 000-hectare (222 394 acres) blaze about 60 km (37 miles) to the southwest of Williams Lake.

Featured image: Wildfires in British Columbia, Canada - July 2017. Credit: CBC

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