A Decade of Wildfires in British Columbia

Over the past few weeks, the leading news stories here in BC have almost exclusively been centred on the numerous wildfires raging across the province, in particular the Boulder Creek wildfire (northwest of Pemberton Meadows) and the Puntzi Lake wildfire (northwest of Williams Lake).

Due largely to the prolonged dry spell we've been experiencing, BC's wildfires have been both numerous and costly to fight: over the first six months of 2015, 937 wildfires were reported, with many of them currently raging. According to the BC Wildfire Service, $96.9 million has been spent thus far in 2015 fighting these fires, with this bill expected to surge over the coming months. While fighting these fires has been expensive--costing an average of $103,000 per fire--this is only roughly half of the average cost required to fight each of the 1,484 wildfires throughout the province last year ($203,000). 

The largest number of wildfires that BC saw in any one year between 2005 and 2014 was in 2009, when a staggering 3,094 fires burned. This included the wildfires that broke out in the Glenrosa and Rose Valley communities of West Kelowna (they attracted significant media attention, but in the end only three structures were lost). In that year, an average of $125,000 was spent fighting each fire, for a total of $382.1 million spent throughout the year.

For more information on the number of wildfires BC has experienced each year over the past decade, as well as the total and average cost associated with fighting them, check out our latest viz here.

Stay cool, and be safe!