A provincial state of emergency was declared by the government of British Columbia on Tuesday after wildfires across the region prompted dozens of evacuation orders, officials said.
Mike Farnworth, the minister of public safety and solicitor general, made the declaration based upon the recommendation from the British Columbia Wildfire Service and Emergency Management British Columbia, a news release said. The declaration will remain in effect for two weeks and can be extended if necessary.
The state of emergency will allow provincial and local resources to be delivered in a coordinated response.
There are currently nearly 300 active wildfires across British Columbia and 14 have started in the past two days, according to the government. The majority of the fires are clustered toward the southern tier of the Canadian province, near the borders of Washington and Montana. Wildfires farther east in Canada have forced officials in Minnesota to issue an air-quality alert, affecting much of the state.
The wildfires, which have drawn more than 3,000 firefighters and other personnel, have prompted 40 evacuation orders affecting more than 5,700 people, officials said. Sixty-nine other evacuation alerts affected another 32,000 people.
“I received word that we’ll be facing a few days of very difficult weather in the Interior,” Mr. Farnworth said in a statement. “This declaration will address the potential of a mass evacuation scenario and provide our government with the means to secure the accommodation spaces necessary to house our citizens, if necessary.”
The extended weather forecast called for continued hot and dry conditions, with heightened wind activity in the Interior and southeastern British Columbia, the release said. A large swath of the province was either under a high or an extreme risk of wildfires starting.
Officials this month announced precautionary measures to address safety concerns around extreme weather and wildfire risks, including reducing train speeds when temperatures are at least 86 degrees Fahrenheit and when the fire danger level for the area is “extreme.”