A wildfire-related state of emergency in B.C. will be come to an end at midnight, according to provincial officials.
Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma says, in a statement, that the move is being made after consultation with experts and in light of cooling conditions and diminished risk.
“While the provincial state of emergency is no longer required, the wildfire season is not over,” Ma said.
“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.”
On Thursday, the number of people on evacuation order was 370 and there were 18,000 on alert which Ma notes represents a “substantial improvement” given that these numbers have been exponentially higher in the weeks since the original declaration.
“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,” Ma’s statement said.
The province has seen a record-breaking number of hectares scorched this summer amid persistently hot and tinder-dry conditions. Two wildfire fighters died on the job, hundreds of structures have been confirmed to have been completely destroyed, and evacuees have returned to communities rendered unrecognizable by the destruction wrought by the fires.
“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,” Ma’s statement continued.
“The expiry of the state of emergency has no impact on recovery work.”
The state of emergency was declared on Aug. 18 and while it was in effect the provincial government used the powers it conferred to issue an order preventing people from booking vacation accommodations in some of the hardest-hit regions in order to make room for evacuees.