By Roy Hales
Though the number of active wildfires increased to 240, of which 17 are classified as “active fires of note,”the province was no longer covered by smoke. Port Hardy’s evacuation order has been rescinded. There was rain in some of the most critical areas last night and today. Aside from Whistler, which is still “5” (moderate), the province’s Air Quality Health Index has dropped to 2’s and 3’s. BC’s fire situation appears to be improving.
More Than Twice As Many Fires
There have been1,025 since April 1, which is more than double the amount from last year.
The province has set up a dedicated page where you can “let our brave firefighters know you support their efforts” You can access it here.
The real problem, of course, is drought. As of Friday:
- Vancouver Island and some of the adjacent islands were in (Level 4) extreme drought conditions.
- Haida Gwaii and most of the southwest was in (level 3) very dry conditions.
- Parts of the province were actually normal
Impose Water Limitations On Nestlé
One of the most popular petitions from SumOfUS calls upon the province to impose water limitations on Nestlé:
As wildfires rage all over drought-stricken BC, the provincial government is still letting companies like Nestlé take water for $2.25 per million litres.
It is outrageous that Nestlé can draw limitless amounts of Canada’s natural resources to sell for a huge profit while British Columbians are asked to not water our lawns and take shorter showers
Over 261,000 have shared this through facebook. (There have been similar complaints, against Nestlé, in California.)
The Larger Picture: Washington & Oregon
According to Washington’s Department of Ecology, that state’s “temperatures are running 20 degrees above normal” and “Almost 70 percent of Washington’s rivers and streams are running at below 10 percent of normal flows.”
To which the Washington Smoke information site adds, “The precipitation predicted for this weekend will do little to suppress
the wildfires burning in Washington or Oregon.”
More Extreme In California
The situation is even more extreme in California, which you see is either dark (level 4) or reddish brown (level 3) in the map to the left.
Californians curtailed their water usage 29% in May.
“The numbers tell us that more Californians are stepping up to help make their communities more water secure, which is welcome news in the face of this dire drought,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus. “That said, we need all Californians to step up–and keep it up–as if we don’t know when it will rain and snow again, because we don’t. If the drought continues beyond this year, we’ll all be glad we did.”
2015 Will Be Remembered
2015 will be remembered as a mean fire season throughout the West Coast.
The question is, will it is also the beginnings of a new climate?
Top photo: The haze in Kelowna, looking out on Okanagan Lake courtesy Pam Deschamps