British Columbia went into a provincial state of emergency last night (Friday).
Premier David Eby and Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness Bowinn Ma made the call at around 6:30.
“This year, we are facing the worst wildfire season ever in British Columbia. Over the past 24 hours, the situation has evolved rapidly and we are in for an extremely challenging situation in the days ahead. There are numerous fires across the province threatening communities. Thousands of people are under evacuation orders, and tens of thousands more are on evacuation alert,” the two stated in a joint release.
“Given these fast-moving conditions, the Province of British Columbia is declaring a provincial state of emergency, under the authority of the Emergency Program Act, to ensure we are in a position to rapidly access any tools we need to support communities as the situation evolves.”
The McDougal Creek wildfire is the most noteworthy in the province, growing rapidly into West Kelowna, now sitting at 10,500 hectares large.
Thousands of people have evacuated the area, there have been reports that numerous homes in the area have been destroyed, however there is no official count at this time.
Flights in and out of Kelowna have been canceled, the airspace is being used to help in the fire fighting effort.
UBC Okanagan has evacuated their campus, and the Kelowna General Hospital has issued a code Orange – meaning “disaster or mass casualty.”
Extreme winds and unfavorable conditions are not expected to let up in Kelowna, as well as the rest of the province, this weekend.
“A provincial state of emergency allows the Province to enact emergency orders. Emergency orders could include travel restrictions to specific areas if people do not respect our calls to avoid non-essential travel to the central Interior and southeastern B.C,” Eby and Ma said.
“We’re calling on all British Columbians to be alert, listen to local officials and follow evacuation orders. We will get through this together.”