VICTORIA – Based on advice from emergency management and wildfire officials, British Columbia’s provincial state of emergency will expire at the end of the day on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023.
The work of firefighters from B.C., Canada and abroad, as well as wildfire risk diminishing in much of the province as temperatures cool, has led to many British Columbians returning home. As of Thursday, Sept. 14, about 370 people are on evacuation order and more than 18,000 are on evacuation alert. These numbers are a substantial improvement over the last several weeks.
“While the provincial state of emergency is no longer required, the wildfire season is not over,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness. “Many communities still have local states of emergency in place and the expiration of the provincial state of emergency does not impact wildfire-fighting resources or our ability to continue to provide emergency supports to communities. In particular, conditions continue to be very challenging in northern B.C., with 125 active fires in the Prince George Fire Centre, and the Province will continue to surge resources into the North as required.”
The Wildfire Act provides the Province with all the legislative tools needed to ensure the co-ordination of provincial and international resources, and support for responding to wildfires. Six hundred out-of-province personnel are currently assisting wildfire response and B.C. continues to co-ordinate additional out-of-province resources through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre.
The province will continue to take every action necessary to respond to the ongoing wildfire situation and support the recovery of affected communities. The province is supporting fire-affected communities as they begin to focus on community-led recovery efforts. The expiry of the state of emergency has no impact on recovery work.
During the state of emergency, declared on Aug. 18, 2023, the province enacted an emergency order to make accommodation available for evacuees in several communities in the central Interior and the southeast. Because of this, thousands of hotel rooms became available and the Province was able to place evacuees in these rooms. This order was lifted on Aug. 25, 2023.
When the provincial state of emergency was extended for two weeks on Aug. 31, nearly 70,000 people were on evacuation order or alert and highly volatile fire risks existed in multiple regions of the province.
State of emergency for Stikine region
While the provincial state of emergency is expiring, a state of emergency issued by the Province will be put in place for the Stikine region in northwestern B.C. This will allow the Province to maintain the evacuation order in the area, which was issued on the recommendation of the BC Wildfire Service on Aug. 26, 2023. The state of emergency is in effect for 14 days and may be extended or rescinded as necessary.
The area extending north from Wheeler Lake to Blue River Bridge, south of Wheeler Lake to the Beaver Dam Rest Area, west of Highway 37, and to the east of Highway 37 (to two kilometres east of the confluence of the Blue and Dease rivers) remains under evacuation order. No primary residences are identified within the order area.
The Stikine region is B.C.’s only unincorporated region and, therefore, the province is responsible for implementing evacuation orders for the region.