The Beatton wildfire near Fort St. John was one of a rash of early-season fires in the spring of 2016, started in dry grass after snow cover melted. (Black Press files)

The Beatton wildfire near Fort St. John was one of a rash of early-season fires in the spring of 2016, started in dry grass after snow cover melted. (Black Press files)

B.C. wildfire prevention budget bulked up as dry spring unfolds

Night vision goggles tested for early detection effort

The B.C. government has increased its base budget for wildfire response to more than $100 million, including new technology for responding quickly when fires start.

The provincial government increased its base budget 58 per cent for this year, after two record fire seasons in a row and continued calls for increased prevention efforts in interface areas around communities. Preparations begin as a cold winter recedes, potentially creating dry spring conditions.

The base budget is an arbitrary amount, with the actual spending in severe wildfire seasons going as high as $400 million. In the record fire seasons of 2017 and 2018, the total topped $600 million as crews and equipment were called in from as far away as Australia.

This year’s base budget includes an additional $50 million community resiliency program to help local governments and Indigenous communities lower the wildfire risk around communities. It’s a long-awaited effort to implement recommendations from former Manitoba premier Gary Filmon after the 2003 wildfire season destroyed homes in the Okanagan.

READ MORE: Myths and facts about fighting B.C. wildfires

READ MORE: 8 things you need to know about B.C.’s budget

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said this year’s effort includes testing of night vision goggles by aerial crews to detect new fires earlier. But the key is prevention, including an expanded prescribed burning program with an initial $10 million budget, Donaldson said.

The B.C. Wildfire Service has more than 1,600 firefighters and support staff prepared for the 2019 season, with initial attack crews increased in the Northwest and Prince George fire centres to reach remote locations.

Industry equipment teams are being expanded, with joint training workshops involving forest industry crews with heavy equipment and B.C. Wildfire Service personnel to improve response.

The province’s four “Fire Boss” air tankers and spotting aircraft have had their base budget for operation increased from 100 to 120 days. The aircraft can operate from land or water, with a rapid cycle time for dropping water or fire retardant to slow the spread of a wildfire.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislaturebc wildfires

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Abbotsford mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby comes home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Abbotsford resident Leonna Dunning is now $50,000 richer after a big win on a scratch ticket. (Submitted)
Abbotsford woman wins $50,000 on scratch ticket

Leona Dunning purchased winning ticket at 7-11 on McCallum Road

Google Maps image.
Four more school exposures in Abbotsford

Two public and two private schools record exposures from Nov. 16 to 19

Google Maps screenshot taken at 6:07 a.m.
TRAFFIC: Westbound dump-truck crash on Highway 1

Crash occurred around 6:45 a.m., west of 232nd Street in Langley

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
Abbotsford mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

A new ‘soft reporting’ room is opening inside the Ann Davis Transition Society offices on Dec. 1, 2020 which is thought to be the first of its kind in B.C. (Ann Davis Transitional Society/ Facebook)
New ‘trauma-informed’ reporting room opening next week in Chilliwack

It’s a space for reporting domestic violence, sexual assault, or gender-based violence to police

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The online poster for Joel Goddard, who left his Willoughby home Nov. 10, 2020, has been updated by his family and friends who received word that he’s been found.
Langley man missing since Nov. 10 found alive and safe in Abbotsford

Family of the Willoughby area man had been searching for days. Police find him at Abbotsford Airport

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A UBC study recommends an multi-government investment of $381 million to protect 102 species at risk in the Fraser River estuary. (Photo supplied by Yuri Choufour)
102 Fraser River estuary species at risk of extinction, researchers warn

UBC team develops $381-million strategy to combat crisis, boost economy

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

Most Read