A picture of the Goode Creek wildfire south of Kelowna, B.C. on Aug. 1, 2018. Image contributed by Nicole Hemeon Photography.

Global infernos create firefighter shortage

Wildfire resources are being put to the test around the world as fires burn out of control.

B.C.’s firefighting resources are stretched thin and without the help they usually get from international crews.

Traditionally, the BC Wildfire Service has been able to enlist the help of firefighters from other provinces and countries, but right now infernos from Greece to California are keeping them busy.

This means relief is not easily accessible for B.C.’s firefighters

B.C. firefighters work 14 days straight before they take mandated rest days for operational safety. This means the wildfire service may be forced to have fewer firefighters on each of the fires in B.C. while crews get some rest.

“We are working to get in more resources to replace those folks and reassess between fires,” said fire information officer Claire Allen.

On top of the fires within B.C., destructive and deadly wildfires are burning in Ontario, California and Greece, just to name a few.

Related: Five homes evacuated due to increased activity at Snowy Mountain wildfire

Related: Wildfires scorching homes, land – and California’s budget

Related: Forensics experts work on identifying the dead in Greek fire

Related: Dozens of wildfires out of control in Ontario

“It is certainly a crazy time for wildfires, not just in B.C. and Canada but across all of North American and even globally,” said Allen.

“Resources are stretched pretty thin across the world. The European Union is very tried up in Greece and Sweden, Australia has been called on pretty heavily for fires throughout the northern hemisphere.”

This global problem of destructive wildfires is not new in 2018, it is an ongoing pattern of increasing fire activity that has been called the “new normal”.

Studies worldwide have shown that wildfires are increasing in number and scale, and becoming increasingly an urban problem.

According to a U.S. study, the National Climate Assessment, climate change is increasing the vulnerability of many U.S. forests through fire, insect infestations, drought, and disease outbreaks.

With global temperatures rising, the consensus from scientists is that wildfires are likely to become increasingly frequent and widespread.

“The effects of global warming on temperature, precipitation levels, and soil moisture are turning many of our forests into kindling during wildfire season,” wrote the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“As the world warms, we can expect more wildfires.”

Related: Okanagan wildfires have potential to become firestorms

Related: ‘Think about the firefighters’: Butt out, stay safe and obey campfire bans

Related: B.C. 2017 disaster report: Extreme weather here to stay

Related: B.C.’s devastating 2017 wildfire season revisited in new book

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@carmenweld
carmen.weld@bpdigital.ca

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