As of the time of writing (July 20th, 2017), 155 fires are raging throughout British Columbia and as many as 45,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. These numbers are disheartening, especially considering it’s only the beginning of the fire season. We want to thank all involved for their continued efforts in fighting the wildfires and for assisting the evacuated residents (and their animals).
None of our member clubs are located in the hardest hit areas, but the wildfires have an effect on everyone. Here’s what a couple of our interior clubs had to say about the situation:
From Doug Smith (Kamloops Hiking Club):
Air quality is extremely poor, so we have advised our Hike Leaders that all events in these conditions need to be canceled or moved to regions where the air quality is better (such as the Monashees). Also, a number of provincial parks are closed so hikes into those areas were also canceled or rescheduled.
Additional considerations include screening participants to make sure there are no health issues with hiking in poor air quality conditions. Since we are central to many highways, we can move events that are on the western side (and northern and southern sides) of our area to the east.
Kamloops is indeed full of evacuees, but the city is well-equipped to manage.
We anticipate that a number of trails will be burnt, but we were through that in 2003 also. Locally, we had a fire at the trailhead of one of our most hiked trails: the Dewdrop Trail. This time it will affect more of the trails in Gold Country and the Cariboo.
From Dave King (Caledonia Ramblers – Prince George)
We in Prince George are north of where the real problems are. Although there were several fires started by the lightning in this area, none are of great concern and, as far I have heard, all fires remained fairly small and are under control.
Last week, I was out on a trail construction project east of Prince George and there were helicopters and fire crew working on a spot fire not far away. The fire, which I knew about, posed no threat or concern so we went ahead with the work.
Planned hikes are not yet being affected. We do have a trip to the Kamloops area planned for the August long weekend and if the fire situation does not improve in that area, that trip could be changed or cancelled. Over the years we have had to change/cancel a few trips due to the fire hazard or the presence of a forest fire. And on one occasion a fire sprung up while we were on a hike and burned across our return trail. Fortunately there were 2 of us along with enough experience to lead everyone out of the area safely although a few were in a state of panic until we got past the fire.
We will continue to monitor the fire situation and, if need be, will cancel or change a planned trip.