British Columbia Premier John Horgan said on Tuesday it was “moving” to see the devastated town of Lytton from the air and meet people who have lost their homes and continue to fight the fires in forest in the interior of British Columbia.
“Despite their personal loss, they remained stoic and moved on with the task at hand,” Horgan said from Kamloops after touring the region on July 6.
At the confluence of the Fraser and Thompson Rivers and the CN and CP Rail lines, Lytton has a history of fires, including one in 2015 that ultimately cost CN Rail more than $ 16 million in fines and damage repairs. The investigation continues into how the June 30 fire swept through the city so quickly that people had to flee a burning community in just 15 minutes.
“I think Lytton can be a case study for the future on how to build for resilience,” Horgan said.
In June, the province added $ 20 million to its Community Resilience Fund, which has helped 116 communities in British Columbia reduce the risk of wildfires since 2018, when it was created in response to consecutive record forest fire seasons.
The risk of fire in British Columbia has skyrocketed with a record heat wave in late June that coincided with the province lifting more of its COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said there are 2,700 people fighting wildfires in British Columbia and 175 planes and helicopters. A group from New Brunswick joined the effort as part of the Interprovincial Fire Season Support Agreement.
The BC Wildfire Service has reported more than 200 fires in British Columbia, with 44 new starts identified on July 5, 24 of which were suspected to be man-made. There are five major fires in the Cariboo Fire Region, five in the Kamloops area and three in the Prince George area, with hundreds of firefighters and dozens of planes and heavy equipment on the job.
Wildfires in British Columbia 2021