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B.C.'s wildfire, drought conditions 'largely unchanged' after recent rainfall, officials say

Recent rainfall gave B.C.'s firefighters a welcome reprieve from this year's historic wildfire season, but appears to have done little to improve conditions.

Speaking at her weekly briefing update Thursday, B.C. Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma said wildfire and drought conditions remain "largely unchanged" despite days of wetter and cooler weather in many parts of the province.

"The recent rainfall we've received was much welcomed but it wasn't enough to have a meaningful impact," Ma said. "I'm calling on all British Columbians to remain vigilant and continue to follow all regional fire prohibitions and water restrictions."

So far this year, a total of 1,512,635 hectares of the province – or 15,126 square kilometres – has been scorched by 1,498 wildfires.

That's an increase of more than 100,000 hectares since Ma's previous update on July 18, when the province had already surpassed its previous all-time record for area burned.

The previous record was set in 2018, when 2,117 wildfires burned 1,354,284 hectares.

The number of active wildfires has dropped over recent days, with 408 burning as of Thursday morning, down by approximately 70 since Monday. Eight of those fires were sparked over the previous 24 hours.

Officials said the wetter, cooler weather allowed for a "slight reset" in the northern half of the province, but that their attention has shifted to the South Cariboo, Kamloops and Southeast fire centres, which did not experience the same relief.

Across the province, approximately 1,060 people remain under evacuation order due to wildfires, with another 5,430 under evacuation alert. Most of the affected residents are living in the central and southeast regions.


Drought conditions have continued to worsen as well, with 23 of the province's 34 water basins now at Level 4 or Level 5 on the drought classification system.

The Lower Mainland is among the regions at Level 4, while Vancouver Island is among the regions at Level 5 – the maximum level under the system.

Ma reiterated her previous calls for all British Columbians, as well as industrial water licensees, to do their part to conserve water: "Every drop counts," she said.

Officials said they have already seen some voluntary reductions in consumption among licencees, and have not needed to issue protection orders against any businesses under the Water Sustainability Act.

"They will be issued if required," Ma added.

Drought conditions are significantly worse than normal for this time of year, due to a mix of high temperatures and low precipitation. The River Forecast Centre has said May's soaring temperatures brought the earliest snowpack melt ever seen in the province.

Forecasters expect warmer-than-normal temperatures for the remainder of the summer as well. Top Stories

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