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More military expected to deploy to help B.C. wildfire fight, minister says

75 military members are heading to Burns Lake to join 75 others sent to Vanderhoof yesterday
U.S. Forest Service co-pilot Matt Berggren steps through a puddle while exiting a plane in Fort St. John, British Columbia, Wednesday, July 5, 2023. U.S. smokejumpers are assisting Canadian firefighters battling blazes throughout the region. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

More soldiers are expected to be deployed today to help firefighters battle the nearly 400 active wildfires in British Columbia.

Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma says 75 military members are heading to Burns Lake, in central B.C., to join 75 others who were sent to nearby Vanderhoof yesterday as part of federal assistance in the province’s wildfire fight.

Ma says forecasters are expecting an increase in fire activity, as shifting winds lead to clearer skies, higher temperatures, and lower humidity.

The province has already set a record for the total area burned in a year with about 14,000 square kilometres scorched across B.C.

BC Wildfire Service officials say the season has not yet hit its peak and they are warning that the drought that has helped fuel the flames this season could roll into next year, potentially causing the 2024 fire season to start early.

A provincial drought bulletin shows 18 of the province’s 34 water basins are at drought Level 4, meaning harm to ecosystems and communities is likely, while four more are at the highest Level 5.

Ma says about 150 people are currently under evacuation orders due to the wildfires, while about 3,400 people are under evacuation alerts and must be ready to leave at short notice in the northwest, northeast and Cariboo regions of the province.

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