Columbia River Revelstoke is fairing reasonably well so far for forest fires, with the largest being the Bill Nye Mountain fire near Wasa, above, but MLA Clovechok warns that fire season is just barely underway and there is a long way to go. Corey Bullock file

B.C. should declare state of emergency on forest fires, MLA Clovechok says

Extreme caution in backcountry is required

Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok is concerned that Premier Horgan has yet to declare a state of emergency given the forest fire situation. He says it would raise awareness with the rest of the country on how severe the situation in British Columbia is, and perhaps make even more resources available. A petition has been launched at requesting a state of emergency and has amassed almost 15,000 signatures.

Horgan said last week that a move to a state of emergency was not necessary yet, saying that he would call it when it was required by fire fighting professionals, and that they hadn’t asked for it yet.

With a weather forecast of continued hot, dry days and a fire situation rapidly worsening, the question of whether the backcountry should be closed to at least recreational use has also been raised.

Clovechok was one of the first to call for a backcountry closure in 2018, the last very severe fire year.

He says he did have a conversation with the Minister last week and asked that very question.

“They haven’t made a decision on that yet,” Clovechok said. “I think it’s prudent to consider it, but you have to follow the advise of the experts.”

There are many things to consider about backcountry closure, he said, including the fact that having people in the backcountry can be a good thing as they can report smoke or fires that haven’t yet been spotted.

In the meantime, given how early in the fire season it still is, Clovechok is imploring anyone who heads into the backcountry to be extremely careful.

“This is dire,” he said. “It’s mid-July. It’s not even fire season yet. I implore everyone to be careful.”

READ: Kootenay East MLA backs call for closure

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