The weather forecast for Vancouver, BC has been showing nothing but sunny days for the past week and for days to come. But in reality, the skies have been covered in think smoke, and in some areas, the smoke is so dense, the sun is completely covered. The smoke covering the city is the result of the epidemic of wildfires in the province. The province of BC has been experiencing a plethora of wildfires this year. Some 5000 square kilometers have been scorched so far, marking this wildfire season the worst in six decades. Not only has the wildfires have been scorching the land but hospitals have seen a rise in emergency calls from people suffering respiratory and other health conditions related to the smoke and heat.
People with medical conditions, infants and the elderly are encouraged to stay in doors until the air quality is cleaned up. Roughly 7000 people have been evacuated from their homes from 30 separate evacuation orders throughout the province. The provincial government has extended the province-wide state of emergency until August 18th. And in an attempt to quell further wildfires being started accidentally, all open fire and camp fires are currently banned. However, firefighter crews in the province have responded close to 1,100 forest fires this summer, compared to 523 at the same time last year. An estimated, one-third of those fires are human caused, which equates to roughly 375 fires and more than 44,000 hectares in flames.
The BC government said in a news release they are considering harsher punishments for careless people who start wildfires, including impounding cars for tossing cigarette butts out the window. "Should we double the fine for failing to extinguish a campfire? Should we ban those who break campfire bans from using our provincial parks? Should we impound the vehicles of those who flick lit cigarette butts from their car windows? These are serious actions, but I think we need to at least consider them to send the message that enough is enough." Many residents in BC are informed and already know the circumstances during the summer season to be careful with fire. But for visitors into the province and unaware of the wildfire season, getting their car rental impounded may be financially expensive. Not only have the government not disclosed how long of the duration of the impound would be, but impound lots charge on a per day basis. The car rental company would charge you an additional charge you at the daily rate for potential loss of income while their rental is inactive on top of smoking surcharges in the car. So for those visiting BC during the remainder of summer, please be careful with your cigarette butts.