Fighting wildfires 'like a chess game': B.C. premier
B.C.’s premier says every person in the province has a responsibility to prevent wildfires.
After days of speculation about her whereabouts, Christy Clark toured the base of operations for firefighters battling one of the province’s largest wildfires Wednesday afternoon.
Clark was in Pemberton, north of Whistler, to see the Elaho fire that has grown to more than 20,000-hectares. It was first discovered nearly a month ago, and was sparked by lightning.
Clark said the fire has been particularly tough to fight because of the wind inversion in the valley and crews are being “choked out by thick smoke.”
“Fighting these kinds of fires is like a chess game… but your opponent cheats. They don’t play by the rules,” she said.
Clark said while the province can’t do anything about lightning-caused blazes, people need to be extra-vigilant about the things we can control.
“We need to make sure we’re minimizing the amount of human-caused fires,” she said, adding that she’s concerned about people discarding lit cigarettes.
“We expect this fire season could go strong until the end of September.”
Amid an unprecedented air quality advisory and up to 30 new wildfires sparking daily, the premier has been noticeably absent from the government’s public response.
People have been using the Twitter hashtag #whereschristy to voice concern.
Clark said she has been on vacation in recent days, but has been communicating daily with her ministers, and her absence hasn’t negatively impacted the fight against the 195 wildfires burning in the province.
“The decision about how these fires are fought [is] made by … professionals out there who are highly trained. My job is to make sure they have the resources and the money that they need,” she told reporters.
The province has already spent more than $90-million on fire suppression efforts this year, far exceeding the $60-million budgeted for all of 2015.
Clark said no expense will be spared this summer.
“We’re going to spend what we need to to keep B.C. safe,” said Clark.
“Fighting fires is an expensive process and we know that but we’ll spend everything we need to.”
The province is calling in additional resources from Ontario and Australia because there are no more available B.C. crews.