Wildfire Season Summary

Last updated on December 7, 2023

The 2023 wildfire season has been the most destructive in British Columbia’s recorded history:

  • More than 2.84 million hectares of forest and land burned
  • Tens of thousands of people forced to evacuate
  • Hundreds of homes and structures lost or damaged
  • Impacts to cultural values, ecological values, infrastructure and local economies
  • Indirect economic impacts to agriculture, tourism and other weather-dependent businesses
  • Unquantifiable impacts to people’s health and wellbeing

This season has been emotionally challenging and will always be remembered for the tragic loss of six members of B.C.’s wildland firefighting community. These individuals exhibited remarkable courage, dedication and selflessness, and their memory will continue to be honoured. Thank you, Devyn Gale, Zak Muise, Kenneth Patrick, Jaxon Billyboy, Blain Sonnenberg and Damian Dyson for serving and protecting the lands and people of British Columbia.

On this page:

We're pleased to share the following video summary of the 2023 wildfire season through the eyes of our people.

2023 BC Wildfire Service Season Summary

This video acknowledges the conditions and impacts of the 2023 wildfire season. It also honours personnel and partners while paying tribute to the fallen wildland firefighters.



Provincial Statistics

Between April 1 and October 31, 2,245 wildfires burned more than 2.84 million hectares of forest and land. This is the most hectares burned in a wildfire season in B.C.’s recorded history.

Though the number of wildfires and hectares burned are significant, 80 per cent of wildfires this season were contained at five hectares or less.

Other years saw more total fires. Twelve seasons have had over 3,000 fires from April 1 to October 31, with 1970 holding the record with 3,990 fires.

Hectares burned this year are double the last record of 1.35 million in 2018. This amount is 10 times the 20-year average annual area burned (284,001 hectares) and is what would historically be expected over a decade. The table below compares 2023 to other significant wildfire seasons (from April 1-October 31).

Provincial Wildfire Statistics, 2017-2023


Number of Wildfires

Hectares Burned













Of the 2,245 wildfires, 72 per cent were natural-caused and 25 per cent were human-caused. For the remaining three per cent of wildfires, the causes are undetermined.

The number of lightning strikes during the 2023 wildfire season was slightly above the 20-year average, with 265,321 strikes recorded.

There were 60 wildfires designated as Wildfires of Note. A Wildfire of Note is a wildfire that is highly visible or poses a threat to public safety.

The estimated cost of wildfire suppression is $817 million. The total cost will be finalized after the season ends on March 31, 2024. This amount does not account for future cost recoveries.

For 28 days, B.C. was under a provincial state of emergency.

Wildfires this season resulted in:

  • An estimated 208 evacuation orders which affected approximately 24,000 properties and roughly 48,000 people
  • An estimated 386 evacuation alerts which affected approximately 62,000 properties and roughly 137,000 people

The number of structures impacted is not yet available, as communities are still assessing and gathering the information to share with the Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness.

Between April 1 and September 30, 29,900 calls were made to the Provincial Wildfire Reporting Centre, generating 18,200 wildfire reports. More than 1,800 wildfire reports were made via the ‘Report a Fire’ function in the BC Wildfire Service mobile app.

Conditions and Fire Behaviour

British Columbia experienced one of the warmest and driest Octobers in 2022. Daytime highs were consistently four to 10 degrees above normal and there was very limited precipitation for what is typically a cool and wet month. Due to the limited moisture, drought conditions in the forests were much higher than normal. The elevated drought codes carried over into spring 2023 and set the stage for a potentially active fire season.

Valley bottoms and deeper fuel layers continued to be very dry from the fall and into April as there was little to no precipitation received, making forest fuels easily susceptible to ignition. Unusually advanced fire behaviour was observed as a result of the drought conditions, considering how early in the spring it was.

In May, an early season heatwave delivered temperatures six to 10 degrees above normal. Rainfall amounts were considerably lower than historical norms, with some areas receiving half of their average amount of precipitation. Nineteen of 23 Environment Canada weather stations recorded a drier than normal May. Sixteen of 23 Environment Canada weather stations recorded the warmest May on record. The exceptional summer-like conditions accelerated snow melt and the drying of fuels, making high-elevation areas snow-free and therefore receptive to lightning two to four weeks earlier than normal.

The lightning-caused Donnie Creek wildfire (G80280) was discovered on May 12, 136 kilometres southeast of Fort Nelson. It exhibited aggressive fire growth, taking a 30 kilometre run just five days after receiving 40 millimetres of rain. Early season burning conditions were equally elevated on Vancouver Island. The Newcastle Creek wildfire (V80527) discovered on May 29, burned nearly a metre deep into the ground.

In June and July, temperatures were significantly above historical averages. Many weather stations in B.C. recorded monthly temperatures in their top ten warmest ever recorded. In addition to the prolonged hot conditions, rainfall was very limited with only 20 to 60 per cent of normal rainfall being received. Lightning activity also increased significantly. Between July 7 and July 13, 51,000 lightning strikes were recorded in B.C., with 76 per cent of those concentrated in the Northwest and Prince George Fire Centres. As a result, 399 new wildfires started in that seven-day period.

Conditions through early August were much of the same – hot and dry. Between August 15-18, over 40 new temperature records were set. This heatwave was followed by a dry cold front which spread strong gusting winds of 40 to 60 kilometres per hour for a 24-hour period from B.C.’s northwest, through Interior regions, before finally passing through the province’s southeast corner. Following the extreme heat and strong wind event, numerous wildfires exhibited extreme fire behaviour and spread exponentially, including the Kookipi Creek wildfire (V11337) near Boston Bar, the Downton Lake wildfire (K71649) near Gold Bridge, the Casper Creek wildfire (K71535) near Shalalth, the Crater Creek wildfire (K52125) near Keremeos, the McDougall Creek wildfire (K52767) adjacent to West Kelowna and the Bush Creek East (K21633) and Lower East Adams Lake (K21620) wildfires in the Shuswap, which merged as a result.

September brought no reprieve for northern B.C. Conditions were persistently warm and dry, coupled with repeated cold front passages. Significant increase in wind speeds and shifting directions lasted over multiple days multiple times over the month. The wind events supported increased activity on longstanding fires across northern B.C., spreading 10 to 40 kilometres in one day.

Fire Activity

Fire Centre Statistics

Fire centre statistics are from April 1 to October 31, 2023.

Fire Centre

Number of Wildfires

Hectares Burned

Cariboo Fire Centre



Coastal Fire Centre



Kamloops Fire Centre



Northwest Fire Centre



Prince George Fire Centre



Southeast Fire Centre



At the peak of wildfire activity, there were 481 wildfires burning concurrently.

Wildfires of Note

In 2023, 60 wildfires were classified as Wildfires of Note. A Wildfire of Note is a fire that is particularly visible or posing a threat to public safety. All 2023 Wildfires of Note are listed in the below table. The table can be searched or sorted by fire name alphabetically, or by hectares burned.

2023 Wildfires of Note
Fire Centre Fire Name Fire Number Hectares Burned Date of Discovery Cause
Cariboo 4.3km SE of Teepee Lake C11499                               7,864 10-Jul Natural
Cariboo 2.5km N of Pelican Lake C11437                           4,422.1 09-Jul Natural
Cariboo Townsend Creek (2.5km E of Margaret Lake) C11290                           2,784.7 08-Jul Natural
Cariboo E of Dripping Water Rd C50100                               209.0 27-Apr Human
Cariboo 3.3km SW of Pelican Lake C50354                               145.0 17-May Human
Coastal Kookipi Creek V11337                         17,405.9 18-Aug Natural
Coastal Young Creek VA1735                           3,360.0 15-Jul Natural
Coastal Dean River VA1335                           2,337.6 08-Jul Natural
Coastal E of Chehalis River V10588                               767.2 03-Jun Human
Coastal Cameron Bluffs V70600                               229.0 03-Jun Human
Coastal 0.5km N Davis Lake V11152                               215.0 05-Jul Human
Kamloops Lower East Adams Lake K21620  Merged with Bush Creek East  12-Jul Natural
Kamloops Crater Creek K52125                         46,504.2 22-Jul Natural
Kamloops Bush Creek East K21633                         45,613.0 12-Jul Natural
Kamloops McDougall Creek K52767                         13,970.4 15-Aug Undetermined
Kamloops Rossmoore Lake K22024                         11,382.0 21-Jul Natural
Kamloops Casper Creek K71535                         11,284.0 11-Jul Natural
Kamloops Downton Lake K71649                           9,565.0 13-Jul Natural
Kamloops Eagle Bluff K52318                           7,060.6 29-Jul Undetermined
Kamloops Stein Mountain K71634                           4,734.3 12-Jul Natural
Kamloops Upper Park Rill Creek K52813                           2,043.8 18-Aug Human
Kamloops Glen Lake K53294                           1,116.2 16-Sep Human
Kamloops Knox Mountain K51040                                    6.3 01-Jul Human
Northwest Sheraton Creek R11247  Merged with Tintagel  07-Jul Natural
Northwest Tintagel R11244                           8,044.0 07-Jul Natural
Northwest Parrot Lookout R21234                           6,758.0 07-Jul Natural
Northwest Old Man River R21250                           2,061.0 07-Jul Natural
Northwest 600m W of Peacock Creek R21178                           1,444.7 06-Jul Natural
Northwest 3mi SW Nilkitkwa Dam R31465                               639.0 09-Jul Natural
Northwest Powers Creek R31228                                 34.0 07-Jul Natural
Prince George West of Cameron River G80175                               385.0 01-May Human
Prince George Coffee Creek G80190                                 89.0 03-May Human
Prince George Teare Creek G30210                           1,100.0 04-May Human
Prince George Boundary Lake G80220                           6,422.2 05-May Human
Prince George Red Creek G80223                           2,947.0 05-May Human
Prince George Donnie Creek G80280                       619,072.5 12-May Natural
Prince George Stoddart Creek G80291                         29,505.9 13-May Human
Prince George West Kiskatinaw River G70645                         25,095.0 06-Jun Natural
Prince George Peavine Creek G70644                           4,427.0 06-Jun Natural
Prince George Big Creek (Omineca River) G60666                       166,856.9 07-Jun Natural
Prince George Nation River G60853                         22,372.8 23-Jun Natural
Prince George Klawli Lake G50872                         17,333.8 24-Jun Natural
Prince George Tsah Creek G41149                               501.1 05-Jul Natural
Prince George Gatcho Lake G41158                         21,926.5 06-Jul Natural
Prince George Finger Lake G41195  Merged with Tatuk Lake  07-Jul Natural
Prince George Great Beaver Lake G51279                         48,396.3 08-Jul Natural
Prince George Tatuk Lake G41307                         44,641.7 08-Jul Natural
Prince George South Lucas Lake G41380  Merged with North Lucas Lake  09-Jul Natural
Prince George Nithi Mountain G41422                               736.6 09-Jul Natural
Prince George North Lucas Lake G41502                         34,853.6 10-Jul Natural
Prince George Davidson Creek G41493                           4,878.8 10-Jul Natural
Prince George Greer Creek G41511                           4,767.8 10-Jul Natural
Prince George SW Whitefish Lake G51564                           6,143.2 11-Jul Natural
Prince George Mount Wartenbe G73406                           1,246.0 08-Oct Natural
Southeast St. Mary's River N11805                           4,640.0 17-Jul Human
Southeast Horsethief Creek N22243                           3,918.5 24-Jul Natural
Southeast Lladnar Creek N12046                           1,295.0 21-Jul Natural

Wildfire Complexes

With the high number of wildfires throughout B.C., many Wildfires of Note and other wildfires in similar locations were grouped into “complexes”. A complex is created when multiple wildfires are managed by a single Incident Management Team, and resources and equipment are shared between all incidents in the complex. There were 14 complexes in 2023:

  • Gillies Complex, Cariboo Fire Centre: Pelican Lake (C11437), Teepee Lake (C11499), Townsend Creek (C11290), Branch Road (C11243), Trout Lake (C11308)
  • Kappan Complex, Cariboo Fire Centre: Gatcho Lake (G41158), Moose Lake (G41189) which merged with Gatcho Lake, Lily Lake (G41165) which merged with Gatcho Lake, Corkscrew Creek (C11405), Trumpeter Mountain (VA1456), Anahim Peak (C51571), Elbow Lake (VA1462), Young Creek (VA1735), Grizzly Creek (VA1167), Irene Lake (C11892), Satah Mountain (C51562)
  • Kookipi Complex, Coastal Fire Centre: Kookipi Creek (V11337), Texas Creek (K71415), Stein Mountain (K71634), Ponderosa Creek (K71705), Rutledge Creek (K71707), Cottonwood Creek (K72705), Izman Creek (K72771)
  • Adams Complex, Kamloops Fire Centre: Bush Creek East (K21633), Lower East Adams Lake (K21620) which merged with Bush Creek East, Rossmoore Lake (K22024)
  • Bendor Range Complex, Kamloops Fire Centre: Downton Lake (K71649), Casper Creek (K71535), Blackhills (K71778)
  • Crater Complex, Kamloops Fire Centre: Crater Creek (K52125), Upper Park Rill Creek (K52813)
  • Grouse Complex, Kamloops Fire Centre: McDougall Creek (K52767), Walroy Lake (K52808), Clarke Creek (K42815), Glen Lake (K53294)
  • Donnie Creek Complex, Prince George Fire Centre: Donnie Creek (G80280), West Conroy Creek (G80287) which was consumed by Donnie Creek, Katah Creek (G80274) which was consumed by Donnie Creek, Kahntah River (G81157) which was consumed by Donnie Creek, Klua Lakes (G90273), Muskwa River (G90292), Zaremba Creek (G80875), Beatton River (G81492), Milligan Hills (G81530), Fontas River (G81010) which was consumed by Hay River (G90628)
  • North Peace Complex, Prince George Fire Centre: Cameron River (G80175), Boundary Lake (G80220), Red Creek (G80223), Stoddart Creek (G80291)
  • Omineca Complex, Prince George Fire Centre: Big Creek (G60666), Nation River (G60853), Usilika Lake (G60882) which was consumed by Big Creek, Mesilinka River (G60651) which was consumed by Big Creek, Fall River (G50851) which was consumed by Big Creek, Muscovite Lakes (G60655), Porcupine Mountain (G60861)
  • South Peace Complex, Prince George Fire Centre: Peavine Creek (G70644), West Kiskatinaw River (G70645)
  • Elk Complex, Southeast Fire Centre: Lladnar Creek (N12046), Mount Bingay (N12546)
  • Horsethief Complex, Southeast Fire Centre: Horsethief Creek (N22243), Yearling Creek (N21453), Mia Creek (N22240), Jubilee Mountain (N22370), Schofield Creek (N22508)

In some cases, fire zones had anywhere from 15 to 50 active fires burning concurrently. To manage the situation, Ministry Zone Operations Centres (MZOCs) were stood up. MZOCs provided support and coordinated response efforts and resources for the defined areas experiencing heavy wildfire demands. Every fire centre had a zone or zones that activated MZOCs.

Fire Bans

Over the season, all fire centres implemented Category 1 (campfire), Category 2 and Category 3 open fire prohibitions. Fire prohibitions are put into place on a regional basis to prevent human-caused wildfires. Many factors are taken into consideration when deciding to implement or rescind an open fire prohibition including fire danger ratings, fuel conditions, local hazards, current and forecasted wildfire activity, as well as current and forecasted weather. Conditions are assessed constantly to make well-informed decisions that best serve our province. Learn more about the science behind open fire prohibitions on our YouTube channel.

The public’s responsible and safe use of fire, or any activity that may have caused a wildfire, was key in keeping overall human-caused wildfires low.

Cultural and Prescribed Fire

Prescribed and cultural fire was utilized throughout the spring and fall for a variety of objectives, including wildfire risk reduction for protection of communities and critical infrastructure, ecosystem restoration, silviculture objectives such as site preparation and habitat objectives. A total of 23 burning projects covering 2,241.4 hectares were completed.

Wildfire reduction activities, such as cultural burning and prescribed fire, can help mitigate large-scale wildfires and their negative impacts on air quality, health, and safety. Fostering collaboration with local communities and the public regarding the importance of reintroducing fire to the landscape in a planned and controlled way, either from a cultural or prescribed fire perspective, is of the utmost importance. These practices are conducted in short intervals and under conditions that limit unintended smoke impacts. To prevent damage and disaster which result from uncontrolled wildfires, and to maintain the health and safety of our forests, communities and wildlife, cultural and prescribed fire will continue to become a more common practice.


Our organization went into the 2023 wildfire season with approximately 2,000 firefighting and support personnel.

Before wildfire activity in B.C. escalated, we were able to assist neighbouring jurisdictions and partners who were facing heightened fire activity. Our firefighters and specialized staff supported in Alberta, Quebec and Alaska.

Upwards of 1,100 personnel were contracted to provide various fire-related functions, including fire suppression, tree falling, first aid, catering and security.

We worked in partnership with numerous structural and municipal fire departments to protect threatened communities. Approximately 135 fire departments to deployed to wildfire incidents 646 times.

Five Indigenous Initial Response crews bolstered response efforts, suppressing wildfires within their territory, individually and alongside BC Wildfire Service.

Heavy equipment and operational partnerships were, as always, imperative to wildfire response this fire season. More than 450 pieces of heavy equipment and their operators responded to wildfires across the province. Operating side-by-side with firefighters, heavy equipment is primarily engaged to build guards that support or make use of existing fuel breaks, including roads and natural features (such as rivers), to minimize additional damage to the natural environment. Learn more about heavy equipment operations on the fireline on our YouTube channel. In addition to providing operational support, as well as local knowledge and expertise, we rely heavily on the contracting community to assist with the rehabilitation of damage due to fire suppression related activities. West Fraser, Western Forest Products, Canfor, Interfor, Tolko, Interior Lumber Manufactures Association, Interior Logging Association and the Council of Forest Industries provided invaluable support.

More support came from hundreds of other local partners in First Nations communities and governments, the forest and ranching sectors, local governments and other ministries, all with diverse and valuable skillsets. The regional knowledge and expertise brought by our partners helps our staff and crews make informed choices about response tactics while making the smallest impact to ecosystems, other values including culturally significant resources and timber.

As wildfire activity increased in June and July, significant out-of-province resources were mobilized to support efforts within the province. Approximately 1,750 personnel came from out-of-province to support the wildfire fight in B.C. Assistance came from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, the Yukon, the Canadian Armed Forces, the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica and South Africa.

Our partners at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and Australia’s Forest Fire Management Victoria provided specialized support in response planning and operations. They exchanged knowledge with us which will help inform future technology and decision-making regarding fire intelligence, advanced planning and fire growth modelling.

Nine airtanker groups were stationed throughout the province this season, including one group from Alberta. Four additional CL-415s were also on hire. The airtankers completed 44 practices and 816 missions. The 10-year average is 509 missions. More than 16.9 million litres of fire suppressant were used and more than 19.2 million litres of fire retardant were used. The total number of airtankers and birddog aircraft engaged was 36. This does not include dozens of other fixed-wing aircraft which were utilized for repositioning personnel, reconnaissance and logistical support.

Rotary-wing aircraft were another resource used heavily in the wildfire fight. More than 48,800 hours of flight time was recorded by long term and casual hire helicopters. The most helicopters contracted on a single day was 150.

Land-Based Recovery

An emerging area of business is the Wildfire Land-Based Recovery Program, which aims to prescribe and implement activities that assist with the overall recovery of the land base that has been damaged due to these ever-increasing disastrous wildfires.

Of the 5,132.77 kilometres of fire guard built this season, approximately 1,207.13 kilometres has been rehabilitated. Nine of 15 wildfire suppression rehabilitation project plans have been completed.

There are many techniques to help landscapes recover from wildfires, from repairing damaged infrastructure to improving the resiliency of forests so they’re better able to withstand future disasters. In addition to the provincial government, wildfire land-based recovery work is carried out by local governments, First Nations, industry, stakeholders, and other organizations throughout the province.

Looking ahead

The 2023 wildfire season was long, impactful and challenging, and the people and communities of British Columbia will continue to feel the effects of the season in the months to come.

Our province and our organization will continue to be resilient and adaptable, taking the events and learnings from this wildfire season to better prepare us for future emergencies and disasters.

A comprehensive and progressive emergency management framework was introduced this fall through the Emergency and Disaster Management Act, along with the announcement of the expert task force on emergencies, with representatives from First Nations, local governments, provincial government and more. Task force members will draw on their individual expertise, and will engage with front-line workers, First Nations, local governments and key industries, such as agriculture and tourism that experienced challenges during the 2023 wildfire season and how we will move forward together.

Throughout this winter and heading into 2024, we will continue working with our partners to improve cooperation with communities that possess local knowledge and expertise. BC Wildfire Service is currently developing solutions to expand training and equipment opportunities to communities interested in integrating with our operations in a safe and respectful way.

Wildfire prevention and risk mitigation will remain a key focus for community protection, including that of critical infrastructure and special values. FireSmart BC and the funding that is allocated through the Community Resilience Investment program is available to be utilized by local governments for initiatives such as the expansion of the FireSmart recognized neighbourhood program, and for forest sectors contractors to implement mechanical treatments.

To learn more about how the BC Wildfire Service operates across all four pillars of emergency management, please explore the rest of this site.

Hand gesturing to stop wildfires with fallen trees and stumps in background.

Reduce the negative impacts of wildfire on public safety, property, the environment and the economy using the seven disciplines of the FireSmart program. Learn about funding available for communities and actions you can take on your property on our wildfire prevention funding webpage.

Items from an emergency kit and checklist.

Preparing for a wildfire event increases the resiliency of our homes and communities. Access valuable resources to prepare your family for an emergency by reading the wildfire preparedness guide.

Handheld radio with dense smoke above a forest fire in the background.

The BC Wildfire Service detects, monitors and responds to an average of 1,600 wildfires per year. Learn more about wildland firefighting on our wildfire response webpage.

New forest growth after a wildfire.

Wildfire recovery considers the social, economic and environmental impacts a wildfire may have on an area. Get more information about community supports after a wildfire event on our wildfire recovery resources webpage.

Work with us

The BC Wildfire Service has a number of seasonal positions open for application across the province, including crew members, dispatchers, asset management assistants and more! If you are interested in fast-paced, meaningful and exciting work, we have employment for you! Take a look at our Seasonal Job Opportunities webpage to learn what positions are available! Be sure to check back regularly for new opportunities.

Tapes of 2023

Play, pause, fast forward and rewind the season on our YouTube channel.

Previous Wildfire Season Summaries


2022 wildfire season

The 2022 wildfire season started later than usual due to sufficient winter precipitation and a cool, wet spring. Sustained warm and dry weather extended B.C.’s wildfire season well into the fall with new records set in late August and mid-October for maximum number of fires detected per week compared to the past 20 years. Many areas of the province set temperature records, and accumulated rainfall amounts through September that were below normal levels. Despite the late drought conditions, the 2022 wildfire season remained below normal in terms of number of fires and area burned statistics.

As of October 31, the BC Wildfire Service had detected 1,758 wildfires resulting in approximately 133,437 hectares of area burned. For the same period in 2021, there were 1,610 wildfires and over 868-thousand hectares burned. Sixty-eight per cent of fires in 2022 were a result of lightning activity. Of the total fires, only 11 per cent exceeded five hectares in size.

Season overview

Spring was preceded by sufficient overwinter precipitation to recover from elevated drought conditions experienced in the lead up to and throughout the 2021 fire season. Conditions remained cool and wet for much of the spring. This, paired with elevated snowpack and effective response tactics, resulted in significantly lower wildfire starts and minimal growth of active wildfires well into July.

In early July, prior to B.C.’s increase in fire activity, the BC Wildfire Service provided upwards of 290 personnel to the Yukon to assist with the busy start to their fire season. In 2021, B.C. received support from several out-of-province agencies during the unprecedented fire season and the BC Wildfire Service values opportunities to assist partners in wildfire management.

Northern regions were first to experience heightened wildfire conditions after receiving less than normal precipitation and higher than average temperatures in late spring. By the latter half of July, the elevated fire danger and wildfire activity shifted to the south due to prolonged hot and dry spells followed by ridge breakdowns, resulting in gusty winds and frequent lightning events.

In August alone there were double the number of lightning-caused wildfires compared to the 20-year average. Overall, 68 per cent of fires in 2022 resulted from lightning. The 2022 fire season was characterized by above average lightning-caused fires and below average human-caused fires, resulting in the province experiencing one of the lowest human-caused wildfire seasons since 1950.

Fire Centre Number of Wildfires Hectares Burned
Cariboo Fire Centre 228 788
Coastal Fire Centre 281 21,779
Kamloops Fire Centre 453 25,006
Northwest Fire Centre 119 14,543
Prince George Fire Centre 248 58,115
Southeast Fire Centre 429 13,203
Total 1,758 133,436

Wildfires of Note

On July 14, roughly one year after the devastating Lytton Creek wildfire, the Nohomin Creek wildfire was detected, approximately two kilometres northwest of Lytton. This was the first wildfire of note for 2022. The BC Wildfire Service responded to the incident in collaboration with local firefighters, the Lytton First Nation, BC Parks and the First Nations Emergency Services Society. Homes were defended and cultural values were identified and protected within the Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park in collaboration with a cultural liaison, structure protection specialists and BC Wildfire Service crews. The Cultural Liaison role was extremely valuable as it provided technical archeology and anthropology expertise along with local and traditional knowledge. On Aug. 10, it was declared that suppression efforts around areas of ecological and cultural significance had been carried out successfully and the remaining fire within the park would be left to burn naturally under the supervision of the Lytton First Nation. The natural ecological process of fire to maintain a healthy forest and diversity of plant and animal life was acknowledged and supported by all partners on this high-profile wildfire incident.

A total of 17 wildfires were declared wildfires of note this season (listed below in order of detection):

  • Nohomin Creek (K70580), July 14, 2022, 1.7 kilometres northwest of Lytton on the west side of the Fraser River
  • Keremeos Creek (K50863), July 29, 2022, 21 kilometres southwest of Penticton
  • Watching Creek (K20872), July 29, 2022, 15 kilometres northwest of Kamloops
  • Maria Creek (K70927), July 31, 2022, 30 kilometres northeast of Lillooet
  • Briggs Creek (N70969), Aug. 1, 2022, 11.5 kilometres west of Kaslo
  • Connell Ridge (N10989), Aug. 1, 2022, 23 kilometres south of Cranbrook
  • Cummings Creek (N11051), Aug. 3, 2022, five kilometres west of Sparwood
  • Weasel Creek (N11062), Aug. 4, 2022, two kilometres west of Frozen Lake
  • Hasler Flats (G71148), Aug. 8, 2022, 30 kilometres southwest of Chetwynd
  • Mount Docking (N20881), Aug. 14, 2022, 27 kilometres east of Radium Hot Springs
  • Heather Lake (V11746), Aug. 21, 2022, originated in Wenatchee National Forest before crossing the border into E.C. Manning Provincial Park
  • Fry Creek (N71980), Aug. 25, 2022, 15 kilometres north of Kaslo on the east side of Kootenay Lake
  • Fat Dog Creek (V12147), Aug. 30, 2022, Fat Dog Creek
  • Battleship Mountain (G72150), Aug. 30, 2022, 50 kilometres west of Hudson’s Hope
  • Bearhole Lake (G72178), Aug. 31, 2022, eight kilometres east of Bearhole Lake near Kiskatinaw River
  • Dinosaur Lake (G72182), Aug. 31, 2022, 14 kilometres southwest of Hudson’s Hope
  • Flood Falls Trail (V12335), Sept. 9, 2022, southwest of Hope

Incident Management Teams

The BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Teams (IMTs) program has a long history of providing emergency management response in B.C. and supporting other partners outside the province. IMTs consist of a diverse group of skilled personnel dedicated to managing complex wildfire and natural hazard events. This year, all six BC Wildfire Service IMTs were deployed throughout July, August and September within Kamloops, Coastal, Southeast and Prince George Fire Centres.

Fire Centre Achievements 

Each of B.C.’s six fire centres exist in geographically distinct and diverse areas. Local innovative solutions and achievements this wildfire season included:

  • The Prince George Fire Centre set up contracts as early as possible for the 2022 wildfire season, right on the heels of a busy fire season last year, and in between flood events. The Prince George Fire Centre also managed multiple concurrent Wildfires of Note, and ongoing fire activity through the fall.
  • The Southeast Fire Centre experienced many highly visible wildfires in steep, difficult to access terrain. The Connell Ridge Complex (comprised of Connell Ridge, Cummings Creek and Weasel Creek wildfires) managed several of these incidents through rotating IMTs which established invaluable partnerships with locals. For example, the BC Cattlemen’s Association Rancher Liaison Program saw local ranchers working directly with IMTs to provide advice on the environment, site specific conditions and values at risk.
  • On July 14, the Kamloops Fire Centre showed great resilience when called to respond to the Nohomin Creek wildfire, roughly one year after the devastating Lytton Creek wildfire. Through the entire season, the BC Wildfire Service worked in partnership with the Lytton First Nation, BC Parks and First Nations Emergency Services Society to manage the incident. Staff and crews also played a pivotal role in the successful integration of the Simpcw First Nation Initial Attack crew. Together, they completed cross-training and shared knowledge about fire response, which was mutually beneficial.
  • The Northwest Fire Centre continued to strengthen partnerships with First Nation communities, as well as small and rural communities. Facility improvements have been made in some of the more remote locations within the region, specifically Dease Lake and Takysie Lake.
  • Thanks to strong relationships with local First Nations and forest industry partners, the Cariboo Fire Centre was able to export all unit crews to assist other fire centres while local incidents were responded to through Indigenous contract crews and industry task teams. An Indigenous Initial Attack crew out of Canim Lake First Nation was involved in wildfire response throughout the summer.
  • Typically, the Coastal Fire Centre plays a pivotal role in supporting other fire centres with resourcing. This season, it continued to support provincial fire operations across the province, while balancing resourcing needs at home during a busier than normal season on the coast that extended into October.

Technological advances for 2022

The BC Wildfire Service constantly works to improve operations to better serve the public. This season, the organization released a new “Report of Fire” function in the BC Wildfire Service mobile app, which allows users to report wildfires online including attaching photos which help inform deployment of resources. The app has been downloaded on over 152-thousand devices, and hundreds of wildfire reports were made through the app this season.

Additional technological advancements made this season include:

  • Portable cellular towers for better communication and data-transfer in remote areas;
  • Expanded use of drone technology for aerial ignitions; and
  • Trials of remotely operated cameras for improved weather forecasts, operational awareness and safer, more cost-effective detection and monitoring of fires

2021 Wildfire Season Summary


Leading up to the 2021 wildfire season, the northern half of British Columbia received average to above-average snowfall, whereas the southern half of the province recorded below-average precipitation over the fall and winter months. As a result, the southern regions carried extended drought conditions into April, May, and June. The Okanagan, the Cariboo, the far southeast, and the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains reported the highest fire hazard ratings in the province throughout the spring.

In the first half of June, relatively normal rainfall occurred in the northern half of the province, while southern regions (especially the Interior) received only 30 per cent of their normal June rainfall. Temperatures climbed steadily throughout June, culminating in a historic heat wave that broke records and affected the entire province. The dryness and extreme heat raised the fire danger to extreme levels, and burning conditions were more typical of what is normally seen in August. As a result, the BC Wildfire Service implemented a provincewide prohibition of all campfires and open fires effective June 28, 2021.

These conditions persisted through the first half of July, making fuels increasingly susceptible to ignition.  The volatility of these fuels, in combination with repeated severe thunderstorms and lightning events, contributed to multiple new wildfires, rapid fire growth, and increased rates of spread on existing wildfires. The situation cannot be understated. In the first two weeks of July, an average of 40 new wildfires started every day. Northern regions of B.C. experienced moderate rainfall in the latter part of July, helping to slow fire growth and calm fire behaviour in those areas. However, the precipitation that fell was not sufficient to extinguish a number of large wildfires.

Moving into August, daytime conditions were hot and dry, and high winds drove fire growth and intensified dangerous fire behaviour. As the number of daylight hours gradually decreased, however, overnight recoveries (i.e., cooler temperatures and increased moisture levels in fuels) slowly began improving. Varying amounts of precipitation were recorded throughout the province, which helped moderate fire activity and fire danger ratings. Temperatures and fire weather indices returned to seasonal averages by the end of August.

The current wildfire season will officially end on March 31, 2022. However, fire activity over the late fall and winter months is typically very low.

Provincial Statistics

From April 1, 2021 to March 28, 2022, 1,642 wildfires burned 869,279 hectares in B.C. Approximately 60 per cent of wildfires in 2021 were natural-caused, 35 per cent were human-caused and the remaining 5 per cent is undetermined.

A provincial state of emergency was declared on July 21, 2021 and stayed in effect for 56 days until Sept. 14, 2021.

The wildfires triggered the implementation of 181 evacuation orders and 304 evacuation alerts.

The total cost of wildfire suppression from April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, was $718.8 million.


At the peak of the 2021 wildfire season, nearly 4,000 personnel were involved in wildfire response efforts. This included upwards of 1,400 personnel who were contracted to provide various fire-related functions, including fire suppression, tree falling, structure protection, first aid, catering, and security.

Engagement and partnerships with industry, stakeholders, local governments and First Nations are active throughout the year at the provincial, fire centre and fire zone levels. This year, the forest industry redirected significant resources to help with firefighting efforts. Industry equipment was strategically placed throughout the province, allowing for faster response to new incidents and access to important pieces of heavy equipment such as bulldozers, excavators and skidders. Forest industry personnel provided crucial support on many large wildfires, and they responded directly to a number of wildfires with minimal assistance from the BC Wildfire Service. The contributions of 83 staff members, 258 contractors and 311 pieces of heavy equipment from Weyerhauser, Interfor, Canfor, West Fraser and Tolko were invaluable.

The BC Wildfire Service worked closely with First Nations to improve coordination, help staff gain heightened cultural awareness and understanding, and harness local traditional information on many wildfires. First Nations liaisons were appointed directly to work closely with wildfire incident management teams (IMTs), providing valuable knowledge and identifying: values on the landscape; culturally sensitive sites; and archaeological resources. The BC Wildfire Service has ongoing programs in place for First Nations communities to help fight wildfires. In March 2019, the BC Wildfire Service provided funding to the First Nations’ Emergency Services Society of B.C. (FNESS), enabling it to undertake an inventory of existing First Nations firefighting crews and identify which communities are interested in establishing a crew. Through this program, hundreds of Indigenous wildland firefighters have been trained, and they will continue to develop their skills to increase First Nations firefighting capacity. This season, the Simpcw First Nation established an Indigenous initial attack crew that will fight wildfires within Simpcw territory. The BC Wildfire Service intends to build on these positive experiences and expand these initiatives.

Nine airtanker groups were stationed throughout the province, including one group from Alberta. The total number of airtankers and “birddog” aircraft engaged at the height of the 2021 fire season was 51, completing 676 airtanker firefighting missions and 77 airtanker practices. An additional 24 fixed-wing aircraft were also on hire. Over the summer, 284 helicopters were contracted by the BC Wildfire Service. 

Out-of-Province Deployments and Support

Fire activity levels were stable throughout the spring of 2021. This allowed the BC Wildfire Service to lend firefighting resources to Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, which were all faced with an early and aggressive start to their wildfire seasons. At the end of May and into the first two weeks of June:

  •  43 personnel were deployed to Manitoba
  •  184 personnel went to Quebec
  •  21 personnel assisted in Ontario

As fire activity increased in this province, the BC Wildfire Service received support from 917 out-of-province personnel. Support came from Parks Canada, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Australia and Mexico. The Canadian Armed Forces also assisted, with 625 members cycling through over the course of the summer. The Canadian Coast Guard also provided aerial resources for the wildfire fight in B.C.

Statistics by Fire Centre

April 1, 2021 to March 28, 2022

Fire Centre Number of Wildfires Hectares Burned
Cariboo Fire Centre 270 129,537
Coastal Fire Centre 216 7,100
Kamloops Fire Centre 459 497,497
Northwest Fire Centre 58 28,645
Prince George Fire Centre 274 128,881
Southeast Fire Centre 367 77,615
Total 1,642 869,279


2021 Wildfires of Note

In 2021, 67 wildfires were classified as “Wildfires of Note” and are listed below. This table can be searched or sorted by fire name alphabetically, or by hectares burned. A Wildfire of Note is a fire that is particularly visible or posing a threat to public safety.

Fire Name Fire Number Hectares Burned Date of Discovery Cause
Akokli Creek N71686 3,795 July 9, 2021 Natural
Beatton River (Tommy Lakes) G81007 3,359 June 28, 2021 Natural
Beavervale Creek N51756 35 July 10, 2021 Natural
Becker Lake K41727 35 July 10, 2021 Undetermined
Big Stick Lake C51290 7,195 July 2, 2021 Human
Bill Nye Mountain N11629 2,990 July 8, 2021 Natural
Black Pine G61316 16,314 July 2, 2021 Natural
Brenda Creek K51924 871 July 14, 2021 Undetermined
Brook Creek (merged with July Mountain) K62615 8,000 Aug. 14, 2021 Human
Bulkley Lake R11557 182 July 7, 2021 Natural
Bunting Road K41561 4,733 July 7, 2021 Undetermined
Camsell Lake G51748 311 July 10, 2021 Natural
Chasm C41866 454 July 13, 2021 Natural
Chief Louis Lake R11562 20,750 July 7, 2021 Natural
Chilako G11126 1,451 June 30, 2021 Natural
Churn Creek Protected Area C21250 12,040 July 2, 2021 Natural
Crazy Creek Gorge FSR K41769 4,359 July 10, 2021 Undetermined
Cultus Creek N71245 7,589 July 2, 2021 Natural
Cutoff Creek G41269 33,418 July 2, 2021 Natural
Durand Lake K21232 290 July 2, 2021 Natural
Embleton Mountain K21644 991 July 8, 2021 Natural
5 km West of Flat Lake C41602 73,862 July 8, 2021 Natural
Forres Mountain G61381 7,770 July 4, 2021 Natural
Buckinghorse G80997 6,399 June 28, 2021 Natural
Minnaker Creek G91020 3,470 June 29, 2021 Natural
Garrison Lake K62088 14,735 July 20, 2021 Undetermined
George Road K70804 5,017 June 16, 2021 Human
Grizzly Lake G41711 4,891 July 10, 2021 Natural
Hedges Butte K52762 166 Sept. 3, 2021 Human
Helmut/Kotcho Lake G92304 79 Aug. 1, 2021 Natural
Hotnarko Creek C51355 1,533 July 3, 2021 Natural
Hunakwa Lake K41676 3,355 July 9, 2021 Undetermined
July Mountain K61882 19,661 July 13, 2021 Natural
Kennedy Siding G61266 37 July 2, 2021 Undetermined
Klawli Lake G61132 8,412 June 30, 2021 Natural
Lytton Creek K71086 83,671 June 30, 2021 Undetermined
McKay Creek K71030 44,964 June 29, 2021 Human
McKinley Lake C31056 1,834 June 30, 2021 Human
Merry Creek N51165 20 July 1, 2021 Human
Michaud Creek N51765 14,032 July 10, 2021 Natural
Mineral Creek N22147 103 July 23, 2021 Human
Momich Lake K21658 16,534 July 9, 2021 Natural
Mount Porter G61192 13,659 July 1, 2021 Natural
Mowhokam Creek V11669 5,098 July 9, 2021 Natural
Mount Law K52627 976 Aug. 15, 2021 Human
Mount Hayes V62669 62 Aug. 19, 2021 Undetermined
Napier Lake K21556 56 July 7, 2021 Natural
Nk'Mip Creek K52061 19,335 July 19, 2021 Human
Octopus Creek N51800 22,049 July 11, 2021 Natural
Petit Creek K60293 100 April 18, 2021 Human
Pine River G72591 2,542 Aug. 13, 2021 Human
Plumbob Mountain N12620 286 Aug. 15, 2021 Undetermined
Purdy Lake C11491 8,100 July 5, 2021 Natural
Northeast of Si Lake C41308 33 July 2, 2021 Natural
Skaha Creek K52739 277 Aug. 28, 2021 Human
South of Canim Lake C41100 3,049 June 30, 2021 Natural
Sparks Lake K21001 95,980 June 28, 2021 Human
Succour Lake C41191 3,006 July 1, 2021 Natural
Southwest of Deka Lake C41102 652 June 30, 2021 Natural
Tent Fire Creek G71138 3,380 June 30, 2021 Natural
Thomas Creek K51794 10,597 July 11, 2021 Human
Three Valley Lake K41807 498 July 11, 2021 Natural
Tremont Creek K21849 63,548 July 12, 2021 Undetermined
Trozzo Creek N51705 6,023 July 9, 2021 Natural
Two Mile Road K42078 2,499 July 20, 2021 Human
White Rock Lake K61884 83,342 July 13, 2021 Natural
Young Lake C41097 7,453 June 30, 2021 Natural

With the high number of active wildfires throughout B.C., many Wildfires of Note were grouped into “complexes”. A complex is created when multiple wildfires in close proximity are all managed by a single Incident Management Team, and resources and equipment are shared between all incidents in the complex. There were seven complexes in 2021:

  • 100 Mile Northeast Complex: South of Canim Lake (C41100), Succour Lake (C41191), Flat Lake (C41602), Young Lake (C41097), Churn Creek Protected Area (C21250)
  • Lytton Creek Complex: Lytton Creek (K71086), George Road (K70804), McKay Creek (K71030), Mowhokam Creek (V11669)
  • Sparks Lake Complex: Sparks Lake (K21001), Embleton Mountain (K21644), Tremont Creek (K21849)
  • Okanagan Complex: Thomas Creek (K51794), Brenda Creek (K51924), Nk’Mip Creek (K52061)
  • Shuswap Complex: Hunakwa Lake (K41676), Three Valley Lake (K41807), Two Mile Road (K42078), Bunting Road (K41561), Crazy Creek Gorge FSR (K41769), Momich Lake (K21658)
  • Cascades Complex: July Mountain (K61882), Brook Creek (K62615), Garrison Lake (K62088)
  • Arrow Lake Complex: Michaud Creek (N51765), Octopus Creek (N51800)

2020 Wildfire Season Summary

The 2020 wildfire season in British Columbia has been quieter than anticipated, with 637 wildfires burning just over 15,000 hectares of land between April 1 and Oct. 1, 2020. Over the past 10 years, on average, 1,356 wildfires have occurred and 347,104 hectares have burned over a full fire season.

The current wildfire season will officially end on March 31, 2021. However, fire activity over the late fall and winter months is typically very low.

The COVID-19 pandemic made firefighting in B.C. challenging, but safety measures introduced early in the season minimized the risk of exposure while also ensuring an effective emergency response.

An unseasonably cool and wet June and July resulted in a late start to the fire season, with activity picking up in August.

A total of 141 airtanker missions have been carried out in 2020. The total cost of wildfire suppression since April 1, 2020 is about $213.8 million. This estimate does not account for future cost recoveries from out-of-province deployments.

Statistics by Fire Centre

  • Southeast Fire Centre - 194 wildfires; 11,099 hectares burned
  • Kamloops Fire Centre - 182 wildfires; 2,521 hectares burned
  • Coastal Fire Centre -  124 wildfires; 1,194 hectares burned
  • Cariboo Fire Centre -  48 wildfires; 57 hectares burned
  • Prince George Fire Centre - 57 wildfires; 251 hectares burned
  • Northwest Fire Centre - 32 wildfires; 52 hectares burned

2020 Wildfires of Note

  • Magee Road (V30067) - discovered April 14, 2020; 203 hectares; human-caused
  • Dry Lake (K60864) - discovered August 2, 2020; 25 hectares; lightning-caused
  • Talbott Creek (N51250) - discovered August 17, 2020; 1,302 hectares; lightning-caused
  • Christie Mountain (K51287) - discovered August 18, 2020; 2,122.5 hectares; cause undetermined
  • Solomon Mountain (N61276) - discovered August 18, 2020; 24 hectares; lightning-caused
  • Doctor Creek (N21257) - discovered August 18, 2020; 7,645 hectares; lightning-caused

Out-of-Province Deployments

In the fall of 2020, the BC Wildfire Service responded to three requests for assistance from the United States via the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, which co-ordinates the mutual sharing of firefighting resources between B.C. and other jurisdictions. In total, 430 personnel were deployed (224 to California and 206 to Oregon) to support firefighting efforts during the extreme wildfire season in the western United States.


2019 Wildfire Season Summary

The 2019 wildfire season in British Columbia was quieter than anticipated, with 825 wildfires burning 21,138 hectares of land between April 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020.

Overall fire activity in 2019 was well below the 10-year average and was the second-least-active wildfire season since 2011. A total of 189 airtanker missions (i.e. requests for an airtanker to assess and/or suppress a wildfire) were carried out in 2019. The total cost of wildfire suppression in 2019 was about $182.5 million.

A low snowpack and a dry start to the spring influenced predictions of above-normal fire conditions in northern and central B.C., with several early wildfires occurring in April and May. By mid-summer, however, most of the province was experiencing normal fuel conditions due to rainfall received throughout June and July.

The number of hectares burned in B.C.’s six fire centres (ranked highest to lowest) were:

  • Northwest Fire Centre: 8,564 hectares
  • Prince George Fire Centre: 7,558 hectares
  • Kamloops Fire Centre: 4,320 hectares
  • Coastal Fire Centre: 337 hectares
  • Cariboo Fire Centre: 189 hectares
  • Southeast Fire Centre: 170 hectares

The number of wildfires in B.C.’s six fire centres (ranked highest to lowest) were:

  • Kamloops Fire Centre: 206 wildfires
  • Coastal Fire Centre: 168 wildfires
  • Southeast Fire Centre: 170 wildfires
  • Prince George Fire Centre: 131 wildfires
  • Northwest Fire Centre: 99 wildfires
  • Cariboo Fire Centre: 51 wildfires

Successful Initial Attack response was effective at keeping most wildfires small and manageable, freeing up crews to assist with non-wildfire incidents and out-of-province deployments.

From June until October, the BC Wildfire Service provided a constant rotation of 233 personnel to assist with the Big Bar landslide on the Fraser River, as part of the Unified Command Team (with provincial, federal and First Nations representation). This multi-agency operation transported 60,346 salmon past the site of the landslide and re-established a temporary natural passage for salmon migration.

More than 1,340 BC Wildfire Service personnel were deployed to assist with heightened wildfire situations in Alaska, Alberta, Ontario, Yukon Territory and Australia. During British Columbia’s devastating 2017 and 2018 wildfire seasons, our province received support from multiple out-of-province agencies through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC). In 2019, B.C. welcomed the opportunity to return the favour and offer assistance beyond our borders.

Notable Wildfires

Although the 2019 fire season was quieter than usual, the BC Wildfire Service declared nine wildfires to be “Wildfires of Note” (i.e. wildfires that were highly visible and, in some cases, posed a threat to public safety).

  • Coffee Creek Subdivision wildfire – Prince George Fire Centre; discovered May 11; 30 kilometres northwest of Fort St. John; 9 hectares; human-caused
  • Lejac wildfire – Prince George Fire Centre; discovered May 11; 5 kilometres east of Fraser Lake; 236 hectares; human-caused; prompted evacuation alerts and an evacuation order
  • Richter Creek wildfire – Kamloops Fire Centre; discovered May 13; 12 kilometres west of Osoyoos; 507 hectares; cause unknown; prompted an evacuation alert
  • Fontas River wildfire – Prince George Fire Centre; discovered May 20; 150 kilometres southeast of Fort Nelson; 650 hectares; lightning-caused
  • Black Angus Creek wildfire – Northwest Fire Centre; discovered May 27; 7 kilometres northwest of Telegraph Creek; 1,935 hectares; lightning-caused
  • Linklater Creek wildfire – Southeast Fire Centre; discovered July 4; 24 kilometres southwest of Baynes Lake; 50 hectares; human-caused
  • Southwest Tagish Lake wildfire – Northwest Fire Centre; discovered July 6; 40 kilometres west of Atlin; 1,197 hectares; lightning-caused; prompted evacuation alerts and an evacuation order
  • Richter Mountain wildfire – Kamloops Fire Centre; discovered July 24; 14 kilometres south of Cawston; 403 hectares; lighting-caused
  • Eagle Bluff wildfire – Kamloops Fire Centre; discovered Aug. 4; 5 kilometres northeast of Oliver; 2,532 hectares; human-caused; prompted an evacuation alert

2018 Wildfire Season Summary

The 2018 wildfire season was unique in its impact to almost all regions of the province, and in its record-setting area burned.


  • 2,117 fires consumed 1,354,284 hectares of land, which surpassed the previously held record of hectares burned from 2017 (over 1.2 million hectare).
  • 66 evacuations were ordered, affecting 2,211 properties.
  • The total cost of wildfire suppression reached $615 million.

Weather was a key driver of fire activity, since late July brought about record-breaking temperatures and severe lightning storms to many areas. More than 70,000 lightning strikes lit up the province between July 31 and August 1, followed by another extreme lightning event on August 11. Within less than two weeks, the BC Wildfire Service was responding to nearly 400 new fire starts.

On August 15, 2018, a Provincial Declaration of State of Emergency was made to support the ongoing response and management of the wildfire situation. It was in place for 23 days, compared to the 70day Provincial State of Emergency in the summer of 2017.

Due to this midsummer surge of wildfire activity, the BC Wildfire Service engaged 270 aircrafts, 4,756 personnel including 1,719 contract personnel, 961 out-of-province personnel, and hundreds of staff from the Canadian Armed Forces. With the help the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC), assistance arrived from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Northwest Territories, Yukon, as well as Washington State, Mexico, New Zealand, and Australia.

Per fire centre, the highest number of hectares burned were:

  • Northwest (837,379)
  • Coastal (175,008)
  • Prince George (155,104)
  • Cariboo (66,592)
  • Southeast (60,565)
  • Kamloops (55,062).

Comparatively, the highest to lowest number of fires per fire centre were:

  • Southeast (445)
  • Prince George (443)
  • Kamloops (429)
  • Cariboo (305)
  • Coastal (291)
  • Northwest (154).

As was the case in 2017, no lives were lost. The safe and successful wildfire response speaks to the professionalism of all agencies involved, and the support and cooperation of the public.

Notable Wildfires

All six fire centres experienced multiple “Wildfires of Note” – that is, wildfires that were highly visible and, in some cases, posed a threat to public safety.

Northwest Fire Centre

Babine Complex:

  • Nadina Lake: 86,767 ha; 40 km southwest of Burns Lake; discovered July 31; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Verdun Mountain: 47,610 ha; 10 km southwest of Grassy Plains, 40 km south of Burns Lake; discovered July 12; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Chelaslie Arm: 9,253 ha; 85 km southeast of Burns Lake; discovered August 6; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts

Stikine Complex:

  • Alkali Lake merged with South Stikine River: 121,215 ha; east of Telegraph Creek; discovered August 1; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts

Nilkitkwa Complex:

  • Torkelsen Lake: 2,524 ha; 20 km south of Fort Babine; discovered August 5; lightning-caused; prompted an Evacuation Order
  • Lutz Creek: 100,227 ha; 23 km south of Watson Lake, 14 km southwest of Lower Post; discovered August 4; lightning-caused; prompted road closures and an Evacuation Order

Prince George Fire Centre

Fraser Complex:

  • Shovel Lake: 92,412 ha; 6.7 km northwest of Endako; discovered July 27; caused by equipment-use; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Island Lake: 21,381 ha; adjacent to Island Lake; discovered August 1; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Chutanli Lake: 20,813 ha; 11 km northeast of Tatelkuz Lake; discovered July 30; caused by equipment-use; prompted Evacuation Alerts
  • Tezzeron Lake:10,602 ha; 106 km northwest of Vanderhoof; discovered July 30; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Purvis Lake: 2,290 ha; 20 km east of Takla Lake; discovered July 30; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts

Coastal Fire Centre

Tweedsmuir Complex:

  • Dean River: 44,816.8 ha; located within Tweedsmuir Provincial Park; discovered August 1; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Ramsey Creek: 79,394 ha; located within Tweedsmuir Provincial Park; discovered July 31; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Pondosy Bay: 60,631 ha; located within Tweedsmuir Provincial Park; discovered August 3; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Gold Valley Main: 168 ha; located near Zeballos; discovered August 11; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Alert due to slope instability
  • Nanaimo Lakes: 182 ha; south of Nanaimo; discovered August 8; human-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Mount Hicks: 427 ha; located between Hope and Agassiz adjacent to Highway 7; discovered August 8; human-caused; prompted Evacuation Alert

Cariboo Fire Centre

Baezaeko Complex:

  • Shag Creek: 12,322 ha; north of Itcha Ilgachuz Park; discovered August 1; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Blackwater River: 8,277.5 ha; east of Blackwater River in the Nazko area; discovered August 1; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • North Baezaeko: 13,433.2 ha; south of Kluskoil Lake Park, 85 km west of Quesnel; discovered August 1; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Narcosli Creek: 4,636 ha; North of Tzenzaicut Lake, west of the Fraser River; discovered August 7; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts

Kamloops Fire Centre

Okanagan Complex:

  • Gottfriedsen Mountain Creek: 642 ha; 24 km west of West Kelowna, 8 km north of Highway 97; discovered August 9; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Alerts
  • Goode’s Creek: 1,370.3 ha; 21 km south of Kelowna; discovered July 17; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Alerts
  • Mount Eneas: 1,790 ha; 4 km south of Peachland; discovered July 17; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Mount Conkle: 118.5 ha; 6 km southwest of Summerland; discovered July 17; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Alerts

Placer Mountain Complex:

  • Cool Creek: 13,626 ha; 20 km northeast from Eastgate; discovered August 15; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Snowy Mountain: 19,226 ha; 14 km south of Keremeos; discovered July 17; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Placer Mountain: 2,372 ha; 37 km south of Princeton; discovered July 17; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts

Monashee Complex:

  • Mabel Creek: 1,370.4 ha; 6.5 km east of Mabel Lake; discovered July 31; lightning-caused
  • Sugar Mountain: 394.3 ha; 4 km east of Sugar Lake; discovered July 31; suspected lightning-caused
  • Woodward Creek: 225 ha; 7 km northwest of Cherryville; discovered August 16; lightning-caused
  • Harris Creek Forest Service Road: 858 ha; 16 km southeast of Lumby; discovered July 31; lightning-caused

Southeast Fire Centre

Syringa Complex:

  • Bulldog Mountain: 2,227 ha; 5 km south of Renata; discovered August 11; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • McArthur Creek: 703 ha; 13 km southeast of Salmo; discovered July 29; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Blacktail Mountain: 2,363 ha; 8 km southeast of Silverton; discovered July 18; lightning-caused; prompted area restrictions
  • Blazed Creek: 6,798 ha; 20 km west of Creston; discovered August 7; lightning-caused
  • Cross River: 3,015 ha; 23 km northeast of Radium; discovered August 2; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Meachen Creek: 9,284 ha; located within Kianuko Provincial Park, 25.5 km southwest of St. Mary’s Lake; discovered August 1; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Randal Creek: 1,181 ha; 17 km southeast of Yahk, on the Canada/U.S. border; discovered August 12; lightning-caused; prompted Evacuation Alerts

2017 Wildfire Season Summary

The summer of 2017 will be remembered as one of the worst wildfire seasons in British Columbia’s history.

It was unprecedented by measure of:

  • the amount of land burned (over 1.2 million hectares)
  • the total cost of fire suppression (over $649 million), and
  • the amount of people displaced (roughly 65,000 evacuated)

The fire season prompted a Provincial State of Emergency that was declared on July 7 and not rescinded until September 15, lasting 70 days. This was the longest Provincial State of Emergency in the province’s history, and the first to be declared since the 2003 firestorm.

At peak activity, over 4,700 personnel were engaged in fighting wildfires across B.C., including over 2,000 contract personnel from the forest industry and over 1,200 personnel from outside the province. This support came from across Canada, as well as from Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and the United States. Ground personnel from the Canadian Armed Forces were also brought in to fight fires for the first time since 2003.

In response to this extraordinary fire season, some extraordinary measures were taken to help prevent human-caused wildfires. Off-road vehicle prohibitions were implemented in the Cariboo, Kamloops and Southeast fire centres and full backcountry closures were implemented in the Cariboo Fire Centre and Rocky Mountain Natural Resource District. Campfires were also banned across most areas of the province throughout the summer due to the incredibly high fire danger rating. Prohibitions like these are very rare in B.C. and are only implemented when absolutely necessary.

With the 2017 fire season finally over, the B.C. government has launched an independent review of this year’s unprecedented wildfire and spring flooding seasons. The review team will examine all aspects of the Province’s response to the floods and wildfires of 2017 and will also engage with British Columbians. The team will deliver a report with recommendations before April 30, 2018, that can be used to inform next year’s spring freshet and wildfire seasons.

Fire Season Timeline

In stark contrast to the summer that was to come, B.C. observed an unusually quiet spring wildfire season. Between April and the end of June, 255 wildfires had burned 1,625 hectares of land. In an average fire season, there would have been about 420 fires and 26,800 hectares burned in this same time span.

Although wildfire activity was low during this time, the province was experiencing notably severe flooding during the spring season. Hundreds of firefighters and other personnel from the BC Wildfire Service were brought in to assist with flood response efforts.

The fire danger for many regions of B.C. began to climb significantly throughout June, although crews were still observing relatively few fire starts. The Cariboo region in particular saw unseasonably hot and dry conditions, as well as record-high Build Up Index (BUI) ratings in several areas. (The BUI is a numeric rating of the total amount of fuel available for combustion, in the event a wildfire does occur.) These developing conditions set the stage for what was to become one of the worst fire seasons on record.

A series of events that took place between July 6 and July 8 dramatically escalated the fire season, and it quickly became clear that firefighters and personnel were coming face-to-face with one of the most challenging summers of their careers. A series of widespread thunderstorms between July 6 and July 8 contributed to over 190 new wildfire starts - the majority of which occurred in the Cariboo. Many of these wildfires grew rapidly and displayed aggressive, dangerous fire behaviour. A number of these fires started in areas close to communities, such as (but not limited to) Williams Lake, 100 Mile House, Princeton, Cache Creek / Ashcroft, Clearwater, Quesnel, and many others.

The majority of "Wildfires of Note" from the 2017 season started during this early-July period. The amount of new fire starts declined and stabilized after this early-July spike, but generally hot and dry conditions prevailed for much of the summer, giving little reprieve in the fight against the existing fires throughout the Cariboo and Southern Interior. In August, a second wave of heightened fire activity was experienced, with several major fires cropping up throughout southeastern B.C. and the Southern Interior. The wildfire season remained active until near the start of fall, when cooler, wetter conditions finally gave crews the upper hand on the fire situation.

Notable 2017 Fires

Kamloops Fire Centre

  • Fountain Valley Road (30 hectares), eight kilometres east of Lillooet; discovered May 28; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Elephant Hill (191,865 hectares), covering an extensive area spanning from near Ashcroft (at the south end) to near BC Highway 24 (at the north end); discovered July 6; prompted Evacuation Orders and Evacuation Alerts. Within its first 24 hours, the fire grew to over 1,000 hectares in size, burned through numerous properties on the Ashcroft Indian Reserve and in the Boston Flats mobile home park, and prompted the entire village of Cache Creek to evacuate.
  • Princeton (3,278 hectares), 10 kilometres northeast of Princeton; discovered July 7; prompted Evacuation Orders and Evacuation Alerts
  • Little Fort Complex (Thuya Lake) (3,607 hectares), three fires near Little Fort and Clearwater; discovered July 7; prompted Evacuation Orders and Evacuation Alerts
  • Diamond Creek (12,453 hectares on BC’s side of the border), in the Ashnola Valley; discovered July 23; part of a larger fire in the U.S. that crossed over into BC; highly visible smoke impacts
  • Philpott Road (465 hectares), 20 kilometres east of Kelowna, near Joe Rich; discovered August 24; prompted Evacuation Orders and Evacuation Alerts
  • Finlay Creek (2,224 hectares), 7.5 kilometres southwest of Peachland; Discovered September 2; prompted Evacuation Orders and Evacuation Alerts

Cariboo Fire Centre

  • The Plateau Complex of fires on the Chilcotin Plateau covered a combined area of 545,151 hectares, making it the largest fire in B.C.’s recorded history (roughly the same size as Prince Edward Island). This fire was the result of nearly 20 separate fires merging together.
  • The Hanceville Complex of fires around Hanceville, Riske Creek, Alexis Creek and surrounding areas covered a span of 241,160 hectares
  • The West Chilcotin Complex of fires in the Chilcotin region covered a combined area of 33,018 hectares. This complex extended into the Coastal Fire Centre and included the 7,368-hectare Precipice fire 52 kilometres east of Bella Coola 
  • The Central Cariboo Complex of fires around Williams Lake, Soda Creek and surrounding areas covered a span of 31,181hectares, including an Evacuation Order for the entire city of Williams Lake and surrounding areas
  • Gustafsen fire (5,700 hectares), just west of 100 Mile House; discovered July 6; prompted Evacuation Orders and Evacuation Alerts

Southeast Fire Centre

  • Harrop Creek (3,117 hectares), 4.5 kilometres south of Harrop-Procter, east of Nelson; discovered July 27; prompted Evacuation Alerts and was highly visible
  • Lamb Creek (2,215 hectares), 2.5 kilometres northwest of Moyie and 18 kilometres southwest of Cranbrook; discovered August 28; prompted Evacuation Orders and Evacuation Alerts
  • Linklater Creek (1,285 on BC’s side of the border), 18 kilometres southwest of Newgate; discovered August 22; part of a larger fire in the U.S. that crossed over into BC; prompted Evacuation Orders and Evacuation Alerts
  • White River (12,000 hectares), 37 kilometres northeast of Canal Flats; discovered July 29; prompted Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Kenow Mountain (15,449 hectares), in the Flathead Valley; discovered August 30; burned into Alberta and the Waterton Lakes National Park

Coastal Fire Centre

  • Harrison Lake East (202 hectares), 30 kilometres north of Harrison Hot Springs near the mouth of Big Silver Creek; discovered July 1; prompted Evacuation Alerts

2016 Wildfire Season Summary

British Columbia saw an unusually early and active start to its wildfire season in 2016, but overall the season was considered to be “below average” in terms of its cost, number of fire starts, and amount of land burned. Humans were responsible for causing over half (or 566) of the 1,050 wildfires that started in 2016.

Wildfire activity increased dramatically in the Peace Region on April 18, when over 40 fires ignited within the span of a few hours. Due to dry and windy conditions in the area, several of these wildfires grew large quickly, and four of them prompted evacuation alerts and orders to be issued for nearby communities. Investigators found evidence to suggest at least 10 of these wildfires had been deliberately set. Many of these fires continued to burn actively until late May (although some continued to burn at a lower intensity well into the fall months).

Meanwhile, on May 1 the disastrous Horse River wildfire ignited in Alberta. By May 3 it had swept through the community of Fort McMurray, destroying thousands of buildings and forcing Canada’s largest wildfire evacuation to date. The BC Wildfire Service deployed personnel and resources to assist Alberta following a request through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC).

By the end of May, B.C.’s wildfire situation calmed down significantly, and the summer months that followed never reached the same level of fire activity. B.C. deployed approximately 200 firefighting personnel to Alberta by late May, as well as 100 personnel to assist with wildfire response in northern Ontario.

Collectively, the fires that burned in the Peace Region and Prince George Fire Centre during the spring were responsible for 90 per cent (or 91,817 hectares) of the land burned across the province in 2016. B.C. saw moderate levels of rain during June, July and August, which helped to prevent forest fuels from drying out during the core summer period where wildfire activity is typically intense. Only 9,508 additional hectares of land burned between June and November.

Notable 2016 Fires

Prince George Fire Centre

  • Baldonnel (420 hectares), five kilometres east of the community of Baldonnel, near Fort St. John; discovered April 18; resulted in Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Beatton Airport Road (15,739 hectares), 45 kilometres north of Fort St. John; discovered April 18; resulted in Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Charlie Lake (250 hectares), West of Charlie Lake near Fort St John; discovered April 18; resulted in Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Siphon Creek (85,300 hectares, including 62,700 hectares in B.C. and 22,600 hectares in Alberta), four kilometres east of the Doig River First Nations community, northeast of Fort St. John; discovered April 18; resulted in Evacuation Alerts
  • South Taylor Hill (850 hectares), South of the community of Taylor; discovered April 18; resulted in Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Halfway River (5,636 hectares), 30 kilometres northeast of Hudson's Hope, along the west-side of the Halfway River; discovered April 19

Kamloops Fire Centre

  • Bear Creek (53 hectares), 6.5 kilometres north of West Kelowna; discovered August 21; resulted in Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • South Spencer Road (532 hectares), two kilometres south of Lytton; discovered August 31; resulted in Evacuation Orders and Alerts

2015 Wildfire Season Summary

British Columbia endured a major wildfire season in 2015 that saw aggressive fire activity, an above-average number of wildfires and hectares burned, and significant impacts on people and communities throughout the province. While lightning accounted for over two thirds (or 1,234) of wildfires in 2015, many of the most destructive fires were caused by people, and therefore preventable.

The season kicked off earlier than normal with the Little Bobtail Lake fire, southwest of Prince George, which was discovered on May 9, 2015.

Record-breaking hot and dry conditions in to June and July brought “high” to “extreme” Fire Danger Ratings in many areas of the province. In particular, coastal and southern B.C. saw dry conditions and high fire danger ratings that were unusually elevated.

On July 5, 2015 John Phare, a 60-year-old Roberts Creek resident, tragically suffered a fatal injury while felling a danger tree at the Old Sechelt Mine wildfire. This was the first “on the ground” firefighting death in British Columbia in decades. In October 2015, Premier Christy Clark awarded him the first-ever Medal of Good Citizenship for his bravery.

Given the sustained level of activity across B.C., additional personnel and resources were imported from other Canadian jurisdictions as well as Australia, South Africa and the United States. A total of 310 out-of-province personnel were brought in to assist. At the height of the season, approximately 2,500 personnel were working both on the fireline and in support positions across the province.

Throughout the season 1,144 homes were evacuated due to wildfires. Over 50 structures were destroyed by many fires throughout the province, with major losses at Puntzi Lake and Rock Creek.

Notable 2015 Fires

Cariboo Fire Centre

  • Puntzi Lake (8,078 hectares); discovered July 8; resulted in Evacuation Orders and Alert

Coastal Fire Centre

  • Elaho (12,523 hectares), 67 km west of Pemberton; discovered June 14
  • Boulder Creek (6,735 hectares), 23 km northwest of Pemberton Meadows; discovered June 14; resulted in Evacuation Orders
  • Cougar Creek (2,868 hectares), south of the Nahatlach River; discovered July 1; resulted in Evacuation Alerts
  • Dog Mountain (450 hectares), on Sproat Lake; discovered July 4; resulted in Evacuation Orders
  • Wood Lake (1,386 hectares), 20 km north of Harrison Hot Springs; discovered August 2
  • Old Sechelt Mine (423 hectares), 2 km north west of Sechelt; discovered August 3; resulted in Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Lizard Lake (402 hectares), 11 km northeast of Port Renfrew; discovered August 12; resulted in the closure of the Pacific Marine Drive and some nearby recreation sites.

Kamloops Fire Centre

  • Cisco Road (2,214 hectares), 10 km south of Lytton; discovered June 11; resulted in Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Huckleberry Road (55 hectares), north of Highway 33 near Joe Rich; discovered July 8; resulted in Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Westside Road (560 hectares), west side of Okanagan Lake, above Westside Road; discovered August 5; resulted in Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Sidley Mountain (50 hectares), on the US / Canada border east of Osoyoos; discovered August 13; resulted in Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Wilsons Mountain (317 hectares), 1 km north of Oliver; discovered August 14; resulted in Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Testalinden Creek (5,133 hectares), 6 km west of Oliver; discovered August 14; resulted in Evacuation Orders and Alerts

Prince George Fire Centre

  • Little Bobtail Lake (25,569 hectares), southwest of Prince George; discovered May 9; resulted in Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Big Beaver Creek (8,200 hectares), at approximately Mile 250 on the Alaska Highway; discovered July 5, 2015; resulted in the brief closing of the Alaska Highway

Southeast Fire Centre

  • Sitkum Creek (770 hectares), 4 km north of Kootenay Lake; discovered July 4; resulted in Evacuation Alerts
  • Rock Creek (4,417 hectares); discovered August 13; resulted in Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Stickpin (Washington State) (21,965 hectares– all in the United States), 5 km south of the US / Canada border near Grand Forks; discovered August 11; resulted in Evacuation Alerts

2014 Wildfire Season Summary

The summer of 2014 was a uniquely challenging wildfire season in British Columbia. Large scale, landscape level wildfires contributed to the burning of almost 360,000 hectares of land - the third highest in our province’s history. While all regions were active, the Northwest and Prince George fire centres were exceptionally busy.

Wildfire activity this season spiked in mid-July, in the midst of a significant heat wave across the province, and continued into late August. Record-breaking hot and dry conditions caused “high” to “extreme” Fire Danger Ratings in many areas of the province.

Between April and November 2014, 1455 wildfires were responded to across B.C. While this statistic is considered below average, many wildfires in 2014 were large, exhibited aggressive fire behaviour, and continually challenged fire suppression efforts. The Fire Danger Rating remained elevated until early September, when it took a sharp downturn with the onset of fall conditions.

Given the sustained level of activity across B.C., additional personnel and resources were imported from all 10 Canadian provinces as well as Yukon, Alaska, and Australia. A total of 1,196 out-of-province personnel were brought in to assist. At the height of our response, over 3,000 people were working both on the fireline and in support positions across the province.

Over 4,500 people were affected by evacuation orders due to wildfires throughout the season, with the largest evacuations taking place in West Kelowna (Smith Creek fire) and Hudson’s Hope (Mt. McAllister fire). Despite the high level of activity, there was minimal loss of structures and infrastructure.

The total amount spent in direct fire costs for the 2014 season was $298 million.

Notable 2014 Fires

Cariboo Fire Centre

  • Euchiniko Lakes (19,923 hectares), 120 km west of Quesnel; resulted in Evacuation Alerts and Orders
  • Bull Canyon (940 hectares), 14 km west of Bull Canyon, on the north side of the highway; resulted in an Evacuation Alert
  • Mount Dent (800 hectares), 100 km northwest of Alexis Creek, 44 km north of Chezacut

Kamloops Fire Centre

  • Smith Creek (280 hectares), West Kelowna; resulted in an Evacuation Order and Alerts
  • Botanie Road (1,248 hectares), north of Lytton; resulted in Evacuation Order and Alert
  • Boot Hill (101 hectares), 30 km southwest of Penticton, near Lookout Mountain
  • Jura (390 hectares), southeast of Missezula Lake, west of Princeton-Summerland; resulted in an Evacuation Alert
  • Maka-Murray (348 hectares), west of Murray Lake; resulted in an Evacuation Order and Alert
  • Apex Mountain (345 hectares), resulted in an Evacuation Alert
  • Drought Hill (40 hectares), north of Highway 97C; resulted in an Evacuation Order and Alert 

Northwest Fire Centre

  • Chelaslie River (133,098 hectares), 7 km south of the Chelaslie River, including sections of Entiako Provincial Park; resulted in Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • China Nose (3,450 hectares), 15 km southeast of Houston; resulted in Evacuation Orders and Alerts

Prince George Fire Centre

  • Mount McAllister (26,273 hectares), 56 km west of Chetwynd; resulted in Evacuation Orders and Alerts
  • Red Deer Creek (33,547 hectares), 61 km southeast of Tumbler Ridge, burned into Alberta; resulted in an Evacuation Order
  • Tenakihi-Mesilinka Complex (64,576 hectares), 50 km west of Williston Lake, between the Mesilinka River and Tenakihi Creek
  • Forres Mountain (29,672 hectares), 50 km northwest of Williston Lake; resulted in an Evacuation Alert
  • Stack Creek (1,625 hectares), 37 km east of Mackenzie
  • Morfee Lake (180 hecatres), 6 km east of Mackenzie
  • Mugaha (185 hectares), 8 km up Mugaha Creek
  • Chinchaga River (980 hectares), 7 km northwest of Chinchaga River
  • Tommy Lakes (4,400 hectares), 60 km northeast of Pink Mountain; resulted in an Evacuation Alert
  • Chuchi Lake (80 hectares), 2 km north of Nation River; resulted in an Evacuation Alert

Southeast Fire Centre

  • Slocan Park (90 hectares), 2 km north of Highway 6 near Slocan Park; resulted in an Evacuation Alert
  • Vowell Creek (900 hectares), 92 km southeast of Revelstoke, near Parson; resulted in an Evacuation Alert
  • White Complex (six fires in complex, largest was 2,000 hectares), near Canal Flats

2013 Wildfire Season Summary

The 2013 fire season, while statistically average, saw scattered periods of very intense activity across British Columbia.

Weather over the summer was, for the most part, seasonal and warm. Following a usually dry July in many parts of the province, an intense low pressure system swept through B.C., bringing unstable weather and lightning. During this period, as many as one hundred new fires were starting every day. Thanks to the hard work and quick response of our crews, most of these fires were contained quickly. By the Labour Day long weekend, the arrival of cool and wet weather in most areas lowered the fire danger rating and put a stop to significant wildfire activity.

Given the relatively low level of activity in B.C. during parts of the summer, the BC Wildfire Service was able to deploy personnel to assist other jurisdictions, including Alberta, Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Quebec, Montana, Washington and Idaho. Crews from the BC Wildfire Service also assisted Emergency Management BC with flood response efforts.

In total, approximately $122M was spent on wildfire suppression, with more than $17M recovered from assisting other jurisdictions.

Notable 2013 Fires

Kamloops Fire Centre

  • The Spatsum Creek wildfire, south of Ashcroft, grew to 1380 hectares in early May of 2013. It resulted in an evacuation order and alert, and briefly closed Highway 97C.

Northwest Fire Centre

  • The Eutsuk Lake wildfire in Tweedsmuir North Provincial Park was the largest fire of the season, burning an estimated 3600 hectares. It resulted in an evacuation alert for nearby wilderness properties.

Number of Fires

  • Total caused by lightning: 973
  • Total caused by people: 414
  • Coastal: 244
  • Northwest: 141
  • Prince George: 353
  • Kamloops: 459
  • Southeast: 331
  • Cariboo: 323
  • Total: 1,851

2012 Wildfire Season Summary

The 2012 fire season saw activity that was 20 to 25 percent below average, both in the total number of fires across the province and the amount of hectares burned.

Cooler temperatures and precipitation in the spring through to early July delayed significant fire activity until later in the summer. With a continuing trend of minimal precipitation from August onward, the Fire Danger Rating remained elevated across the province and remained heightened well in to the fall. New fires were being discovered almost daily well in to October.

Throughout the season, the BC Wildfire Service had the opportunity to export personnel and resources to many outside jurisdictions including: Washington, Idaho, Manitoba, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. The BC Wildfire Service also brought in out-of-province crews to assist during periods of heightened activity. A total of 79 personnel came from Saskatchewan, Ontario and Yukon to assist in our wildfire suppression efforts. The province spent approximately $155M on firefighting operations and recovered approximately $8.5M from out-of-province deployments.

Early in the season, the BC Wildfire Service was also able to lend out resources to Emergency Management B.C. to assist with spring flooding throughout the province.

Notable 2012 Fires

Cariboo Fire Centre

  • 406 hectare Big Bar Creek fire, west of Clinton, caused an evacuation order.

Kamloops Fire Centre

  • 200 hectare Trepanier Creek near Peachland; caused an evacuation order.

Prince George Fire Centre

  • 23,830 hectare White Spruce Creek fire, east of Fort Nelson; caused an evacuation order and area restrictions that affected oil and gas personnel in the area. This was the largest single wildfire of the 2012 season.

Number of Fires

Out of the 1,644 wildfires this season, 700 were confirmed to be human-caused and 944 lightning-caused.

  • Coastal: 265
  • Northwest: 110
  • Prince George: 386
  • Kamloops: 460
  • Southeast: 230
  • Cariboo: 193

2011 Wildfire Season Summary

The 2011 fire season will go down in history as one of the slowest on record. Cool and wet conditions in the spring and early summer months resulted in minimal fire activity. Record breaking temperatures in late August and early September dried out the province and increased the danger ratings. But the number of fire starts remained low because there was very little lightning activity.

During the season, the BC Wildfire Service was afforded the opportunity to export a record number of 2,073 personnel to out-of-province jurisdictions, including Alberta, Ontario, the Yukon, Alaska, the Northwest Territories, Manitoba, Washington, Texas, and Montana. In previous fire seasons B.C. has been supported by many of these jurisdictions, and this year provided a good opportunity to return the favour.

By the first week of September, fire danger ratings in most areas of the province were high to extreme, and these conditions persisted through until the end of the month. The most notable fire during this time only reached eight hectares in size and was mopped up within a couple days.

Due to the quiet season, the province spent considerably less ($66.7M) on firefighting, and recovered approximately $28.6M from out-of-province deployments.

The number of fires this season was three times below average, while the total area burned was 10 times less than average. Furthermore, 91 per cent of the total hectares burned this year in B.C. were consumed by one fire in the northwest of the province, the Tsigar Lake Fire.

During the fire season, the BC Wildfire Service was also able to lend out resources to other provincial jurisdictions, including Emergency Management B.C. and B.C. Highways.

There were only a handful of notable fires during this fire season. Only one fire, the Bear Creek Park Fire, in West Kelowna caused an evacuation order.

Notable 2011 Fires

Kamloops Fire Centre

  • Eight hectare fire at Bear Creek in west Kelowna; caused the evacuation of approximately 550 people.

Northwest Fire Centre

  • 11,000 hectare fire at Tisigar Lake, south of Yukon border; the largest single fire in the province.

Number of Fires

  • By Cause:
    • 438 caused by people
    • 208 caused by lightning
  • By Fire Centre:
    • Coastal: 90
    • Northwest: 20
    • Prince George: 105
    • Kamloops: 243
    • Southeast: 132
    • Cariboo: 56

2010 Wildfire Season Summary

The 2010 fire season was somewhat unusual. Due to a dry winter and early spring, it seemed forest conditions were ripe for another devastating season. But then the spring rain started and did not stop until the province was soaked. Hot sunshine in July dried forest fuels quickly, but minimal lightning activity kept fire starts down.

During this time of low fire activity in the province, BC Wildfire Service crews were sent to Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba to assist them with some very significant wildfires. It was a good opportunity for B.C.’s resources to help those who had assisted us in the 2009 season.

But on July 28, everything changed. With fire danger ratings at high to extreme, lightning storms hit the central interior and, in only four days, the number of fires province-wide nearly doubled from 600 to 1,100. Fire crews and officials were kept busy as fires rapidly consumed hectares of forests, forcing numerous evacuations throughout the Cariboo.

Conditions started to calm as mid-August approached, but it was only a brief respite. On August 18 a wind event passed through the central interior, causing significant and unprecedented growth on some fires. Nearly 100,000 hectares (one-third of the entire season’s total) were burned in only 24 hours.

But as quickly as it started, the fire season petered out. By the end of August, only one month since the lightning storm, cooler temperatures and precipitation reduced fire activity. And by the first week of September, all remaining evacuation orders and alerts were rescinded and all out-of-province personnel returned home.

While the total number of fires was less than average, the number of hectares burned was the highest it has been in at least 10 years (three times the average) at approximately 330,000 hectares.

The hardest hit areas were in the central interior (around Williams Lake, through the Chilcotin and the area south of Houston, Burns Lake and Fraser Lake) where very large fires impacted many residents.

During the fire season, BC Wildfire Service resources, contract firefighters and emergency firefighters were used to their full capacity. Over 1,400 personnel assisted from out-of-province, including over 1,100 firefighters. Resources were brought in from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Northwest Territories, the Yukon and the United States.

The 2010 fires have cost approximately $220 million, which makes this season the third most expensive in history.

There were over 100 notable fires during this fire season, and approximately 27 of those were significant interface wildfires, which resulted in 11 evacuation orders and 16 evacuation alerts. Sadly, two airtanker pilots lost their lives in the line of duty.

Notable 2010 Fires

Cariboo Fire Centre

  • The Pelican Lake complex of fires north of Nazko covered a combined area of 35,506 hectares
  • The Meldrum Creek complex of fires covered a combined area of 47,293 hectares
  • The Bull Canyon complex of fires near Alexis Creek covered a combined area of 35,000 hectares.
  • 3,086 hectare fire at Heckman Pass near Tweedsmuir Park; closed Highway 20

Coastal Fire Centre

  • 4,553 hectare fire at Dean River, north of Bella Coola

Kamloops Fire Centre

  • 2,000 hectare fire at Jade Mountain, Yalakom Valley
  • 650 hectare fire at Tweddle Creek, west of Keremeos
  • 130 hectare fire at Mayson Lake, Southeast of Bonaparte Lake

Northwest Fire Centre

  • 40,000 hectare fire at Binta Lake, south of Burns Lake; the largest single fire in the province
  • The Houston complex of four fires southwest of Houston burned a combined 8,500 hectares
  • 35,000 hectare fire at the Cassiar Highway near the Yukon border

Prince George Fire Centre

  • 6,102 hectare fire at Greer Creek, southwest of Vanderhoof
  • 13,087 hectare fire at Tsacha Lake, west of Tweedsmuir Park

2009 Wildfire Season Summary

Fire season 2009 will go down in history as one of the busiest due to exceptional weather and fire behaviour conditions. The season started early due to above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation. As early as May, crews were battling multiple fires of note that threatened communities.

Typical June rains arrived weeks later than usual and below seasonal averages. On July 18, fires broke out in the Glenrosa and Rose Valley communities of West Kelowna, garnishing huge public and media attention. These two fires, combined with the Terrace Mountain fire west of Fintry, led to multiple evacuation orders and alerts. Fortunately, only three structures were lost on the very first day of the Glenrosa fire.

July also saw an abundance of lightning storms leading to other fires of note throughout the province. Temperatures continued to break record highs and little precipitation was received in most areas. As September began, all personnel continued to work hard to contain fires across the Kamloops and Cariboo regions. At a time when the fire season is normally wrapping up, six fires still had people out of their homes or ready to leave at a moment’s notice; the largest –the Lava Canyon fire –was nearly 55,000 hectares and growing.

As fall settled in, cooler temperatures and more precipitation finally came to the central and south interior. By mid-September fire activity slowed, evacuation orders and alerts were rescinded, and crews from out-of-province returned home. Fire season 2009 has been one of the worst in B.C.’'s history, with a record number of fires and total hectares burned well above average. Another record was set in the amount of money spent. The cost of direct firefighting for the season is nearly $400 million, surpassing not only the average fire season price tag of $115.9 million, but also the previous record of most expensive season, which was during Firestorm 2003.

During the fire season, Wildfire Management Branch resources, contract fire fighters and newly trained emergency fire fighters were used to their full capacity. Over 2,500 personnel assisted from out of province, including over 1,800 firefighters. Resources were brought in from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and the United States. For the first time, we also had 25 fire specialists from the State of Victoria, Australia, and six personnel from New Zealand to aid in fire suppression efforts.

There were over 100 notable fires during this fire season: at least 27 caused evacuation orders and at least a dozen more caused evacuation alerts. While the season was long and exhausting, thankfully there was nowhere near the terrible destruction seen in 2003. Sadly, one helicopter pilot lost his life in the line of duty.

Notable 2009 Fires

Cariboo Fire Centre

  • 1,000 hectare fire at 70 mile house; two homes lost.
  • 150 hectare fire at Buffalo Creek, northeast of 100 mile house; two homes lost.
  • 6,618 hectare Kluskus fire, west of Quesnel
  • 66,719 hectare (667 square kilometres) fire at Lava Canyon, in the Chilcotin; largest fire of the season, and led to evacuation orders and alerts.
  • 20,925 hectare (209 square kilometres) fire at Kelly Creek, in Edgehills Provincial Park, 20 km southwest of Clinton; two structures were lost.

Coastal Fire Centre

  • 30 hectare Blackcomb Mountain fire; caused an evacuation of the mountain.
  • 850 and 823 hectare Pemberton Meadow complex fires; led to evacuation orders and area closures.
  • 368 hectare fire at Nuxalk Mountain; evacuated the community of Bella Coola

Kamloops Fire Centre

  • 400 hectare fire at Glenrosa, west Kelowna; three structures lost.
  • 200 hectare fire Rose Valley Dam, west Kelowna; led to multiple evacuations.
  • 9,277 hectare fire, Terrace Mountain, west of Fintry; multiple communities evacuated.
  • 8,045 hectare Tyaughton Lake fire, north of Goldbridge; multiple communities evacuated.
  • 3,696 hectare Mount McLean fire, west of Lillooet; led to evacuations and local state of emergency.
  • 1,597 hectare fire at Intlpam, between Lytton and Lillooet.
  • 2,042 Hell Creek fire, in the Yalakom Valley; led to evacuation orders
  • 3,025 hectare fire at Brookmere, 42 km south of Merritt; led to evacuation order for community of Brookmere.
  • 1,753 hectare Seton Portage fire, southwest of Lillooet; three structures lost.
  • 7,014 hectare fire at Big Dog Mountain, Yalakom Valley.
  • 6,045 hectare Little Dog Mountain fire, Yalakom Valley.
  • 625 hectare Scottie Creek fire, 20 km north of Cache Creek; led to evacuation.

Prince George Fire Centre

  • 23,182 hectare fire at Junction of Smith and Liard River; second largest fire of the season, which closed the Alaska Highway and caused the evacuation of three small communities.

2003 Wildfire Season Summary*

The 2003 fire season was one of the most catastrophic in British Columbia's recorded history. Due to an extended drought in the southern half of the province, forest firefighters faced conditions never seen before in Canada.

Lightning strikes, human carelessness, and arson all contributed to igniting nearly 2,500 fires involving more than 10,000 firefighters and support personnel and burning more than 265,000 hectares (ha) at a cost of $375 million. The extreme volatility of the dry forests, compounded by the province's difficult terrain, created unprecedented fire behaviour and made fire suppression almost impossible. The ongoing fires put extreme pressure on human and equipment resources and the daily outbreak of new fires (218 fires on one day alone) added an even greater burden on suppression teams.

While fire crews often fought uncontrolled fires that travelled at more than seven km/hr, and leapt several kilometres over highways, waterways and fire breaks, human safety remained a priority and not a single firefighter was lost on the fireline. In addition, there were no civilian lives lost nor any civil unrest associated with the largest evacuation in B.C. history, which involved more than 30,000 people.

Tragically, two air tanker crew members and a helicopter pilot lost their lives and one person was seriously injured.

2003 Notable Fires

Okanagan Mountain Park

The Okanagan Mountain Park fire was the most significant interface wildfire event in BC history. The fire's final size was 25,600 hectares. Much of BC was affected by the fire but the communities of Naramata and Kelowna suffered the largest effect when the blaze caused the evacuation of 33,050 people (4,050 of these people were also evacuated for a second time) and 238 homes were lost or damaged. The fire also claimed 12 wooden trestles and damaged two other steel trestles in the historic Myra Canyon.


The McLure fire caused the devastating loss or damage of 72 homes and nine businesses. Due to this fire, 3,800 people were evacuated (880 of these people were also evacuated for a second time) from the small communities of McLure, Barriere and Louis Creek. The fire reached a final size of 26,420 hectares


*2003 is included due to it being one of the most severe fire seasons on record in B.C.