On July 7, British Columbia declared its first state of emergency in 14 years in response to the wildfires raging throughout the province. More than 223 wildfires started over just two days. There were 202 wildfires burning in the province by Tuesday, July 11, and 14,000 people were forced to evacuate.
Several of the fires in the southern region of British Columbia near Ashcroft, Princeton and 100 Mile House were together burning 70,000 hectares, officials said.
Evacuation alerts and orders have been issued for Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Princeton, 105 Mile House and 108 Mile House. The extended weather forecast was calling for continued hot, dry weather, with risks of thunderstorms in many parts of the province, the BC Wildfire Service said.
Imperial Metals Corp. said the forest fires in south central British Columbia were threatening the homes of many employees who live in the Williams Lake area, and impacting operations at the Mount Polley mine site, located 56 kilometers northeast of Williams Lake. Many of the roads used to access the mine site are currently closed. Employees who have been able to report for work have been reassigned to maintain mill operations at the expense of mining operations, which have significantly reduced. Many Red Chris employees also live in the Williams Lake area, and have been evacuated from their homes or are on evacuation alert.
EnGold Mines Ltd. reported it has shut down all exploration activity on its Lac La Hache property. Heavy smoke, closed roads and intermittent power outages made continued operations unsafe and unworkable, the company said. The town of Lac La Hache, where the company’s exploration office and workshop is located, is currently on evacuation alert.
Taseko Mines said there are no fires in the immediate vicinity of its Gibraltar operation, but the fires have made it difficult for its employees to get to the mine. Mining and milling operations have not stopped, but have been scaled back due to the reduced workforce availability.
The last provincial declaration of state of emergency was issued in August 2003 to deal with wildfires.