BC forest fire
23 Aug 2018

"Government neglect to blame for wildfire chaos - not just heat waves and climate change"


"Climate change is not responsible for British Columbia’s terrible wildfire situation — the government is... Despite warnings, government failed to invest in measures to reduce wildfire risk".

As 600 wildfires are burning in the province´s forests, an article in TheTyee.ca questions how the Canadian British Columbia government has lived up to its goals when it comes to cleaning up dead fuel from the forest and doing the prescribed burns they know are necessary to prevent wildfire.

Bill Tieleman raises the following question in his article: Is it perhaps too easy to blame climate change for the currently escalating wildfire situation?

"The liberal government shamefully and negligently refused to take the necessary steps to prevent out of control interface fires that have devastated or threatened B.C. communities", writes Tieleman in his article:

"They ignored key recommendations of the Firestorm 2003 review by ex-Manitoba premier Gary Filmon, refusing to take necessary steps to remove dangerous forest fuels that cause infernos."


How many of the wildfires are really due to neglect?  And how many are conveniently blamed on the recent heatwaves?

And while environmental groups loudly claim that the fires are caused by climate change,  it doesn’t lay the blame where it actually belongs, according to Bill Tieleman:

"Is climate change a factor? Of course. But climate change has been a concern since before the 2003 Kelowna firestorm, and wasn’t a factor in B.C.’s worst fire season in 1958, when 8,560 square kilometres of forest were destroyed."


8 millions in prevention costs vs 182 million in wildfire response cost

According to Tieleman, over 10 years between 2006 and 2015 the BC government spent only $8 million a year to remove fuels from just 80,000 of a total 685,000 hectares of high-risk forest land that urgently needs action. At the same time, it cost the B.C. government an average $182 million every year to fight forest fires.

Choking smoke has been blanketing B.C. and beyond for weeks the last feew year; thousands of people evacuated; homes and businesses destroyed; livestock killed; tourism devastated; and more.

“While the cost of fuel management may seem expensive, research has shown that, in general, hazard mitigation investments cost less than wildfires when all direct, indirect and additional costs of wildfire are tallied. Money spent on mitigation through an effective interface fuel management program should reduce social, economic and environmental impacts to communities. Some of these impacts include smoke-caused health issues, disruption to the tourism industry, property loss, and damage to watersheds, among many others.”


“Prevention [of forest fires] is always more productive and cost-effective than responding afterwards.” — B.C. Forest Practices Board, 2015

Cover photo by BC Government