B.C. declares state of emergency over wildfires

The British Columbia government has declared a provincial state of emergency to support the response to the hundreds of wildfires burning across the province. The state of emergency will remain in effect for 14 days, but can be extended or rescinded as necessary.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says the state of emergency applies to the entire province and ensures federal, provincial and local resources can be delivered in a co-ordinated manner.
Farnworth declared the emergency based on recommendations from the BC Wildfire Service and emergency management officials.
The province says 566 wildfires were burning across B.C. as of Tuesday, with evacuation orders covering more than 1,500 properties and affecting about 3,000 people.
The wildfire service says more than 1,800 wildfires have been recorded since the season began on April 1, charring nearly 3,800-square kilometres of timber and bush. Farnworth says he ordered the provincewide state of emergency to protect public safety.
“As wildfire activity is expected to increase, this is a progressive step in our wildfire response to make sure British Columbia has access to any and all resources necessary,” Farnworth, who is also the province’s solicitor general, says in a news release.
The federal government has approved the deployment of about 200 members of the Armed Forces to help with firefighting efforts, and the province says those troops are expected in the coming days.
Wildfires will only get worse unless we learn how to live with them
Wildfire activity and its impact are increasing around much of the world. We see it on the news every summer now. Different locations (and sometimes the same locations) and different impacts – sometimes terrible, tragic impacts – but everywhere there seems to be wildfire these days, these years. This is the reality and its coming was predictable even several decades ago. And, it will only get worse. The effort we put into adapting to this changed world will influence how easily we co-exist with fire.
Why is fire activity increasing in Canada and other parts of the world? Simply, things have changed. There are more people and their things on the landscape.
People cause more than half of all fires, and fires threaten to burn the things we value, be it homes, infrastructure or beautiful forest views. Lastly, and probably most importantly, weather patterns are changing. Hot, dry, windy conditions – those conducive to fires starting and spreading – are becoming more frequent.
As wildfire will remain a recurring feature in our lives, we have to learn to live with it. To live with it, we must understand it. We have to change our view of fire. It is not the enemy but just a natural process, one that has historically helped maintain many vegetated ecosystems. However, it is at times uncontrollable by even our modern technologies.
During the first decades of the 20th century, large wildfires, both from lightning and from those escaping from land-clearing activities, burned large areas and even led to major community burnovers with considerable fatalities, similar in number to those we see in parts of the world today. The answer then was the formation of provincial fire-management organizations to find and fight those fires and, nationally, the investment in a research program that would provide fire managers the tools to anticipate and better prepare for burning conditions.
That approach has been successful for decades – some might argue too successful, but that is a nuanced discussion for another time. Canadian fire-management agencies are among the best in the world at managing wildfires. The products of Canadian fire science not only inform fire-management activities every day throughout the country, but are used in many different locations around the world to provide early-warning systems.
The challenges presented by increasing wildfire activity will continue to grow. If we desire to maintain our current levels of public safety, we must re-envision how we manage fire in Canada. We will need to look harder for situations where low-risk fires can be allowed to burn unsuppressed, freeing up resources to respond to more imminent threats and letting fire play its natural role. It’s an approach that necessitates taking more, but measured risk, with the end goal of preventing major losses of what we value most. Fire agencies are embracing these ideas, sometimes as part of continuing strategic planning, sometimes as part of necessity.
However, it is an approach that requires fire managers to be equipped with comprehensive and scientifically sound, real-time information for estimating and managing risk in challenging and complex scenarios. It is an approach that can only succeed if we invest in research that focuses on greater understanding of wildfires.
So as we face increased unmanageable wildfire activity in the 21st century, we need, as we did a century ago, public investment (at both the provincial and federal level) in wildfire management and fire research to reduce this risk. What will it take to move us forward? We have seen the Fort McMurray wildfire – the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history – record-breaking years and evacuations across the country, but no significant investment in research. We hope the catalyst for action is not multiple fatalities from wildfires as it was in the past century. The increased risks we face from wildfire will only continue to worsen without significant investment and change.
How to avoid the long-term health consequences of B.C. wildfire smoke
With the thick blanket of wildfire smoke covering B.C. showing no sign of clearing out, many people have begun to worry about the long-term health impacts of the haze. The thick soup of particles is of immediate concern to children, seniors, and people with respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). But Dr. Don Sin, head of respiratory medicine at St. Paul’s Hospital, said that for about one in 10 people, breathing in the smoke could be bad news in the long run. “We know that from studies from the past that certain individuals, maybe 10 per cent or so, will have long-term consequences from breathing in this bad air,” Sin told Global News. “You can develop asthma or COPD or heart disease or stroke from this kind of event.” Sin said the problem is it’s hard to say who will be susceptible to the long-term damage. Instead, he said people who are exposed should keep an eye on symptoms in the years to come, and see a doctor if they’re concerned. The best solution? Avoid exposure, and stay indoors as much as possible, he said. “We are what we breathe, so air quality makes a tremendous impact on the health of British Columbians.” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said while the temptation to evacuate an area such as Prince George, Williams Lake, Quesnel or Castlegar — where the air health index was at “very high risk” on Friday — might be strong, officials do not recommend it. She said evacuations themselves can be stressful, and there is no guarantee that evacuees will find themselves in an area with air quality that’s any better.
She echoed Sin, saying reducing exposure is the key. “If you have a portable air filter, particularly with HEPA filtration, then you can create a room where the air is clean,” she said. “If that’s not available… health authorities have been working with communities to help set up areas where there can be clean air and people can go there for respite.” Henry added that environments such as libraries, community centres and shopping malls also have cooler, filtered air. For people who just can’t avoid exposure to the smoke, Evelina Bednarek with Western Safety said there are options, though they’re not always cheap. She said people should avoid surgical masks, which do “absolutely nothing.” At the affordable end of the range, Bednarek said people can look for disposable industrial masks that are rated N-95. “[That] means it protects you from 95 per cent of particulates,” she said. A pack of 10 runs between $35 and $40, she said. For a little more — about $40 for a unit without filter cartridges — you can buy a mask that will protect you from 100 per cent of particulate. “You basically have the respirator with different types of filters and cartridges. So for smoke, we recommend HEPA filters, P-100, that you can attach to the respirator.” Bednarek said masks of both types should be available at hardware stores, but that it’s essential that consumers check that they are properly HEPA or N-95 rated.

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Una risposta a “B.C. declares state of emergency over wildfires

  1. I am the victim of many years persecution with no reason. I was wrongly convicted 3 times and much much more. Please contact me in the interest of Italians.

    On Mon, Aug 20, 2018 at 12:20 PM Marco Polo / L’Eco d’Italia wrote:

    > MARCO POLO NEWSPAPER posted: “The British Columbia government has declared > a provincial state of emergency to support the response to the hundreds of > wildfires burning across the province. The state of emergency will remain > in effect for 14 days, but can be extended or rescinded as ne” >

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