Skip to main content

B.C. firefighters frustrated with residents ignoring wildfire-prompted evacuation orders, then needing rescue


With resources stretched thin, B.C. firefighters are growing increasingly frustrated with people who refuse to leave their homes during evacuation orders.

Firefighters say they've been forced to divert their efforts putting out flames of wildfires to deal with a different emergency.

It's been an intense season so far, but some British Columbians are still staying behind, choosing instead to keep an eye on their properties.

And in some cases, as the fires close in, they've needed to be rescued.

"I'm aware of at least three situations where we had to divert our resources, either on the ground or in the air, to assist with evacuating people that got caught behind the fire line, and their evacuation route or escape route was cut off," said Rob Schweitzer, director of fire centre operations for the BC Wildfire Service.

In an update Tuesday, the BCWS tried to drive home the unusual severity of this fire season.

Over the past 10 years, there has been an average of 642 fires at this point in the season, burning through an average of 105,000 hectares of land.

So far this year, 1,230 wildfires have scorched 425,000 hectares.

"Across the western side of North America we are seeing these more extreme seasons – longer fire seasons and more intense fires – which is obviously increasing the costs quite significantly to suppress these fires," Schweitzer said.

With a report from CTV News Vancouver's Ben Miljure Top Stories

Stay Connected