Fire Season now BC's second most destructive on record

The smoke envelopes Kamloops. Environment Canada has listed the air quality index at 8 for the city or what it calls

British Columbia is experiencing its most destructive wildfire season in 60 years, according to officials at B.C. Wildfire service.

More than 870 fires have been sparked across B.C. since April 1, scorching an estimated 5,090 square kilometres and costing the province $211.7 million in fire suppression efforts. In early July, the province saw more than 200 fires start in about 48 hours.

He says the season is far from over, and that August is usually a busy month for fires.

"We've been doing this on many fires across the province up until this point", Skrepnek said during a daily wildfire update conference call.

They are headed to one of six regional fire centers Friday and will likely be dispatched to one of numerous new fires burning in the region.

Crews battling aggressive wildfires across British Columbia have been faced with hot weather and hard conditions, but officials say the theft and damage of equipment is the most frustrating challenge yet.

Skrepnek says a forecast change in weather is expected to shift wind patterns and cut back the smoky haze that has settled over much of B.C.'s coast in recent days.

The state of emergency was first issued on July 7.

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Greg Nyman, 52, is a rancher who lives about 80 kilometres west of Kamloops, where an aggressive fire is resisting the efforts of hundreds of firefighters to bring it under control.

He says controlled burns are an essential and effective tool for fighting wildfires and that while accidents do happen the vast majority of planned burns are successful.

This will be New Zealand's 20th worldwide rural fire deployment, and the fourth and largest contingent to Canada since the first deployment there in 2009, he said.

There were 132 fires burning across B.C.as of Wednesday, 10 of which were added since Tuesday. 97, has increased the size of that fire.

"We'll make up for the equipment and we'll get it into the hands that need it, but it's definitely frustrating".

Skrepnek said he understands people's anxiety but insisted planned ignitions are necessary in a case like this. "Using fire to fight fire is one of our only tactics to address a fire of this size", he said.

"To be frank, this is an active fire", he said.

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