B.C. 2024 wildfire season expected to begin earlier, last longer: Feds

After a record-breaking wildfire season in 2023, it’s not what British Columbians want to hear.

This year’s wildfire season is expected to begin earlier than normal, and last longer, according to the federal government’s Emergency Preparedness Minister Harjit Sajjan.

Giving an update on Canada’s upcoming wildfire season Wednesday, Sajjan explained there are several concerning trends across the country, including deep drought conditions in B.C., parts of Alberta, and southern Ontario, and forecasts of a warmer summer than normal.

“We are expecting above normal temperatures all across the country, which [are] actually leading to early snow melts. All these elements create conditions for a wildfire season like the last, and more to that the temperature trends are very concerning,” Sajjan said.

“With the heat and dryness across the country, we can expect that the wildfire season will start sooner and later and potentially be more explosive.

“It is impossible to predict with certainty that the summer the summer that lies ahead of us, but what is clear is that wildfires will represent a significant challenge for Canada into the future, as the impacts of climate change continue to intensify.”

However, Sajjan noted there is a lot of work being done ahead of the season, including a summit involving federal, provincial, and territorial counterparts ensuring everyone is prepared for whatever the season brings.

“The cost to Canadians is also growing every single year. So we are investing in preparedness because we know that it saves Canadians money in the long run,” he said.

“Just a few years ago, in my home province of British Columbia, hundreds of people died under heat domes. And I cannot say it enough — the threat to Canadians posed by climate change is real. And while it is a shared responsibility with provincial and territorial partners, we will be there to support them this season and beyond.”

The 2023 fire season was Canada’s worst on record, burning more than 15 million hectares and forcing more than 230,000 people from their homes.

In response to a request from Canada’s fire chiefs, Ottawa says it will double the tax credit for volunteer firefighters from $3,000 to $6,000.

-With files from Dean Recksiedler and The Canadian Press

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