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B.C. government preparing for wildfire season amid prolonged drought

The B.C. government is preparing for wildfires and prolonged droughts anticipated to come this year.

“We’re taking action earlier than ever and preparations for this year’s wildfire season are already well underway,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness. “We have seen the devastating consequences of climate change on our communities and we are using lessons learned from last year to strengthen our approach to emergencies. By taking a whole-of-government approach and working with local governments, First Nations and emergency-response partners, we can ensure we are as prepared as possible for whatever might come.”

Government officials said this work includes improvements in wildfire preparedness and support for evacuees.

This included incorporating new technology to help predict wildfire behaviour, purchasing new and upgraded equipment, and improved training.

“Last year’s wildfire season was the worst in our province’s history and we know how incredibly difficult it was for everyone,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “Our top priority is keeping people safe, which is why we continue to take significant action to prevent and prepare for wildfires as we head into spring and summer. We know the impacts of climate change are arriving faster than predicted. We will keep actioning the recommendations from the expert task force to make sure we are ready for wildfires when and where they happen.”

B.C. officials said the forecast shows a possibility of an active spring wildfire season due to current drought conditions across the province.

Experts believe the fire risk is expected to grow in the coming weeks and months, with dry conditions expected to stay until the province gets significant and sustained rainfall.

This comes at the snow bulletin for March 1 showed an average snowpack level of 66 per cent of normal.

“While a reduced snowpack may lessen the flood-risk hazard in some communities, extreme weather can still lead to flooding, and people and communities are encouraged to be prepared,” said B.C. officials.

The province is also predicting a potential for dry conditions to continue, and residents, communities and businesses are asked to take water conservation seriously.

“Many communities experienced severe drought conditions last summer. The potential for drought conditions this year is very real and we are taking steps to help people prepare,” said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship. “We have boosted community emergency grants, water infrastructure and support for farmers and ranchers, and we will keep finding ways to support people, communities, businesses and wildlife in the face of drought.”

While the province helps local and indigenous governments prepare water scarcity response plans, residents are encouraged to make emergency preparedness plans as well.

This includes:

  • Creating an evacuation plan.
  • Updating home insurance policies.
  • Knowing where to find trusted emergency information.
  • Staying informed about weather alerts.
  • Create an online profile if you’ll need support during an emergency at https://ess.gov.bc.ca/.
  • Make your home more resistant to wildfire damage by taking action to create FireSmart property.
  • Building an emergency kit which includes essentials, such as water, non-perishable food, medication and a first-aid kit.
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