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People urged to stay vigilant as wildfire, drought risk remains severe

VICTORIA – Despite scattered showers throughout much of the province on Monday, July 24, 2023, people are urged to be prepared and continue to follow all regional fire prohibitions and local water restrictions due to extreme wildfire risks and the ongoing drought.

Despite recent rain, most of the province remains in a Drought Level 4 or Drought Level 5 classification. People, businesses and governments throughout the province are encouraged to continue water conservation efforts. Additionally, the wildfire danger rating for the southern part of the province remains high to extreme, with pockets of the northeast of B.C. sharing similar conditions.

This past weekend, fires in the Kamloops Fire Centre experienced significant growth. The Ross Moore Lake Fire south of Kamloops covers 2,600 hectares. Additionally, an evacuation order has been expanded in the Casper Creek area to include people in Seton Portage and the Tsal’alh First Nation. People should follow directions from their First Nation or local authority when placed under an evacuation order or alert. As of July 24, there are approximately 1,030 people under evacuation order in B.C., and 3,700 people under evacuation alert.

Since April 1, 2023, there have been 1,454 wildfires that have burned more than 1.48 million hectares of land. There are 481 active wildfires, with more than half classified as out of control.

Nearly 600 out-of-province and international personnel are on the ground supporting wildfire suppression. This includes support from Mexico, Australia, Brazil and the United States, and the Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian Coast Guard.

To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone or download the BC Wildfire Service app. The mobile app allows individuals to submit photos along with their report, which helps inform BC Wildfire Service operational decision-making.

Stay informed as conditions change at or through the BC Wildfire Service app. The Province has extended the state of emergency for the unincorporated Stikine region to support the ongoing co-ordinated response to wildfires in the area and ensure public safety. As of July 24, the state of emergency has been extended for 14 days and may be extended or rescinded as necessary.

Be ready to evacuate:

* Follow the instructions of First Nations and local authorities.

* If you are under an evacuation order, it means you must leave the area.

* By not leaving, you risk not only the health and safety of you and your family, but also of first responders who may need to come back to help you.

* Help fire crews keep you and your community safe by following evacuation orders.

* The Province reminds the public to prepare their households for any hazards they may face. This includes making a household plan and thinking about friends and family who may be able to provide shelter and support should an evacuation order be issued. This will help ensure local accommodation is available for those who have no other option.

* Upon receipt of an evacuation order, it is important that evacuees contact their designated reception centre to ensure that they can receive supports. The evacuation orders issued by communities direct evacuees to the locations of reception centres.

* After determining eligibility for Emergency Support Services (ESS), evacuees may receive ESS supports for food, clothing, incidentals, billeting and/or lodging, either through vouchers or digitally if the evacuee and community are registered with the Evacuee Registration and Assistance tool.

* People are strongly encouraged to pre-register for ESS. This can expedite an evacuees’ experience at a reception centre and allow for e-transfers, where applicable. To register, visit the Province’s Evacuee Registration and Assistance online tool:


British Columbia uses a 0-5 scale to measure the severity of drought in the province, with Drought Level 5 being the most severe. Of the 34 water basins throughout B.C., eight are in Drought Level 5 and 13 are categorized as Drought Level 4. Water basins classified as Drought Level 5 include Fort Nelson, South Peace, Bulkley-Lakes, Finlay, Parsnip, Upper Fraser West, West Vancouver Island and East Vancouver Island.

People and businesses are being urged to follow their local government or First Nation’s water restrictions and prioritize water conservation, as communities and the environment will be impacted in areas classified as Drought Level 4 to 5.

Drought is a recurring feature of climate change that involves reduced precipitation, such as rain, during an extended period, resulting in a water shortage. Drought can affect people in different ways, resulting in agricultural, health, economic and environmental consequences.

In recent months, the Province has supported communities in preparation for summer.

The Province is asking local and regional governments to be diligent in monitoring their water-supply levels and to be proactive about enacting conservation measures. If conservation measures do not achieve sufficient results and drought conditions worsen, the Province may issue temporary protection orders under the Water Sustainability Act to water licensees to support drinking water for communities and avoid significant or irreversible harm to aquatic ecosystems. Provincial staff are monitoring the situation and working to balance water use with environmental flow needs.

People and businesses should reduce water use wherever possible and observe all watering restrictions from their local or regional government, water utility provider or irrigation district.

Indoor water conservation tips:

* Reduce personal water use, such as taking shorter showers.

* If washing dishes by hand, fill the sink rather than letting the water run freely.

* Instead of running the tap, keep a jug of cool water in the fridge.

* Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or shaving.

* Regularly check your home for leaks. Undetected leaks in your home can waste many litres of water each year.

* Run full loads of laundry and full loads in the dishwasher.

Outdoor water conservation tips:

* Water lawns sparingly, if at all.

* Water things, such as gardens, in the morning or evening to reduce evaporation.

* Clean the driveway with a broom instead of a hose.

* Check for leaks in outdoor pipes, faucets and hoses.

* Talk to a local nursery or garden supplies centre about drought-tolerant plants.

* Use rain barrels to collect rainwater for outdoor plant use.

* If you have a swimming pool, consider a water-saving pool filter.

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