Province on high alert with increased fire activity throughout B.C.

Seventy personnel, two amphibious skimming aircraft, one birddog
aircraft and an air attack officer from Ontario arrived in B.C.

VICTORIA - With a significant number of wildfires burning throughout

B.C., the Province is cautioning all British Columbians to be diligent

with fire safety and to report all wildfires to authorities.

New today:

* A provincewide campfire ban has been extended to the "Fog Zone" on

the west coast of Vancouver Island.

* Emergency Social Services (ESS) support is now being provided for

approximately 7 people on the Sunshine Coast.

* A Wildfire Smoke Advisory has been issued for the Sea to Sky

Corridor, including Whistler and Pemberton.

* The fire east of Lake Kookanusa is now contained and all Evacuation

Alerts issued by the Regional District of East Kootenay for areas

around this wildfire have now been lifted.

* Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton visited the

front lines of the wildfire near Port Hardy and saw firsthand how

residents and businesses in the community are working together:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjyKY19R

* Seventy personnel, two amphibious skimming aircraft, one birddog

aircraft and an air attack officer from Ontario arrived in B.C.

yesterday. More resources, including some from Australia, are expected

to arrive next week and more have been requested.

Update on fire activity and impacts:

There were 31 new fires in B.C. yesterday and the Province is

cautioning all British Columbians to be diligent with fire safety and

report all wildfires to authorities. As of noon today, there were 189

active fires throughout the province (of this, 18 are active fires of

note), with five states of local emergency due to wildfire and eight

evacuation alerts/orders currently in effect.

As of July 8, 2015, over 40 properties in the province were on

Evacuation Order with approximately 500 homes on Evacuation Alert.

These numbers will fluctuate as orders and alerts are put into place

and/or rescinded.

Evacuation Orders currently exist in these areas:

* Boulder Creek Wildfire, northwest of Pemberton Meadows, affecting

three commercial properties and two recreational cabins

* Alberni Clayoquot Regional District, affecting 21 seasonal homes due

to Dog Mountain fire

* Sechelt Mine fire, issued for Carlson Point, affecting 21 waterfront

properties

Evacuation Alerts exist in these areas:

* Tsulquate Creek Fire, northwest of Port Hardy, affecting 100 homes

* Sitkum Creek Fire, north of Kootenay Lake, affecting 350 homes

* Two alerts for the Harrogate area, north of Highway 95, between

Harrogate and Brisco, affecting 50 homes in total

* Petitot River fire, northeast of Fort Nelson, affecting an oil and

gas camp.

States of local emergency for wildfires exist in the following areas:

* Northern Rockies Regional Municipality

* Regional District of East Kootenay

* Squamish-Lillooet Regional District

* Sunshine Coast Regional District

* Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District

For all current Evacuation Alerts and Orders in B.C., see:

www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca

BC Wildfire Service resources deployed:

The BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) has responded to 919 wildfires so far

this season.

Over 1,000 of B.C.'s firefighters are fully deployed throughout the

province, and over 600 contract firefighters are helping to fight

fires.

The 63 sustained action firefighters and seven other specialized

personnel from Ontario have arrived and are now deployed throughout the

Coastal Fire Centre and Southeast Fire Centre.

In addition, two amphibious skimming aircraft, one birddog aircraft and

an air attack officer from Ontario.

These requests for assistance were made through the Canadian

Interagency Forest Fire Centre, which co-ordinates the mutual sharing

of firefighting resources between B.C. and other Canadian

jurisdictions. Costs associated with these requests will be covered by

B.C. under the Mutual Aid Resources Sharing Agreement, which allows for

the movement of firefighting resources throughout Canada.

Penalties for open burning:

Failure to abide by the Wildfire Act, including open burning

restrictions, can result in a $345 fine, an administrative penalty of

$10,000 or, if convicted in court, a fine of up to $100,000 and/or one

year in jail.

Wildfire smoke advisories and air quality status:

The Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with regional health

authorities, has issued air quality advisories in several areas of the

province - including the Lower Mainland, Sea-to-Sky Corridor, south and

east Vancouver Island, parts of the Interior and the Fort St. John

area.

The advisories are a result of high concentrations of fine particulate

matter due to smoke from wildfires in B.C. The air quality has improved

in most parts of the province overnight, though levels continue to be

elevated in the Whistler area. The advisories are expected to remain in

place until weather conditions change.

New Wildfire Smoke Advisories have been issued for these areas:

* Sea to Sky Corridor, including Whistler and Pemberton.

* Sunshine Coast and surrounding areas affecting Powell River to

Gibsons/Langdale.

* East and South Coast of Vancouver Island from Campbell River to

Victoria, and including the interior community of Port Alberni.

* A Smoky Skies Advisory was issued for the Okanagan, Similkameen and

Boundary areas.

* A Smoky Skies Advisory was issued for the Thompson, Fraser Canyon,

Nicola, and Shuswap areas.

If you see or smell smoke in the air, you're advised to avoid strenuous

outdoor activities, especially if you have chronic underlying medical

conditions. Staying indoors and in air conditioned spaces helps to

reduce fine particulate exposure. Exposure is particularly a concern

for infants, the elderly and those who have heart disease or underlying

respiratory conditions - like asthma or other lung diseases, such as

COPD. Anyone experiencing difficulty breathing or wheezing is advised

to take steps to reduce their exposure to smoke and see a physician if

necessary.

For information on current air quality readings in B.C. please visit:

www.bcairquality.ca

Support for British Columbians impacted by wildfires:

Including the seven people added today, ESS has now been provided for

nearly 300 people in B.C. The majority of these were as a result of

previous wildfires east of Kelowna and in Port Hardy. These other

people have now all returned home.

ESS is temporary public aid that provides up to 72 hours of essentials

like mass lodging and food service, as well as emergency supplies and

necessities.

For information on how to access Emergency Social Services, see:

https://flic.kr/p/vozEzU

Report all wildfires:

Human-caused wildfires are preventable and the public is B.C.'s first

line of defence against wildfires. Please be diligent when in the

backcountry, and report all wildfires to 1 800 663-5555 or *5555 on

your mobile phone.

Quick Facts:

* Since April 1, 2015, B.C. has reported 918 fires, more than double

the 424 wildfires reported in the same time period in 2014.

* Failure to report a fire can result in a fine of up to $173.

* Anyone who causes damage to Crown forest or grass land through arson

or recklessness can be fined up to $1 million or spend up to three

years in prison.

* If a contravention of the Wildfire Act causes or contributes to a

wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting

and associated costs.

Learn More:

For current information on current wildfires and open burning

prohibitions in your area, as well as fire safety tips, see:

http://engage.gov.bc.ca/bcwildfire/ and http://ow.ly/PfwC6

To learn about how to prevent wildfires and what to do if your

community receives an Evacuation Alert or Order, visit:

http://ow.ly/PfsPl and http://ow.ly/PftLE

The Homeowner's FireSmart Manual helps inform people on how to reduce

the risk of personal property damage due to wildfires:

http://ow.ly/PfpqL

To keep up-to-date on emergency alerts on Twitter follow:

@EmergencyInfoBC