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BC wildfires: A look at the numbers as more than 8,000 people evacuated from homes

We break down the numbers, from evacuation orders and alerts to the number of people working directly on the fires.

As thousands of people are being forced from their homes due to wildfires, there isn’t a clear number of just how many structures have been lost to flames.

Glacier Media reached out to BC Wildfire Service and provincial officials to find out how many structures have been destroyed but were told "currently, wildfire response and recovery efforts, including assessing damages, are underway in communities across B.C."

"The Province will have a count of structures lost after the wildfire season, based on information from communities," according to a statement from the Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness.

Many wildfires continue to burn throughout the province with late August thunderstorms complicating an already unprecedented fire season. 

Here’s a look at the numbers:

  • Wildfires this season: 1,957
  • Wildfire actively burning: 384
  • Fires of note: 12
  • People on evacuation order: more than 8,000
  • People on evacuation alert: nearly 54,000
  • Deaths from wildfires: two firefighters
  • Cost of 2023 wildland firefight: $585 million
  • People working directly on the fires: 3,500
  • People deployed to fires from outside of Canada: 500 

Castanet News has reported that 180 properties were lost in the McDougall Creek wildfire; the Lake Okanagan Resort lost 150 units on its one property. 

Local government and First Nations officials have released preliminary estimates of the damage done by the Bush Creek East wildfire. According to Castanet, just under 200 structures have been lost.

On Monday, B.C. Forestry Minister Bruce Ralston said the province is not concerned about running out of money to fight the fires.

"There is no financial challenge to the province — the money is there,” he said. "Whatever it takes to protect people and property, the money is there.”

Cliff Chapman, director of operations for the BC Wildfire Service, said the two biggest line items on the agency’s budget are aircraft and personnel.

“Firefighting is an inherently expensive response business to get into,” he said. "Those aviation assets really add up, in addition to when we bring in ground crews.”

Chapman said BCWS currently has 35 fixed-wing airplanes and 130 helicopters under contract. He said aviation assets typically make up about 40 per cent of the agency’s budget.

The $585-million figure covers only firefighting costs, not money spent operating emergency operations centres or housing wildfire evacuees.

With files from Castanet

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