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B.C. wildfires in 2023 scorch 3 million hectares

Land burned is more than twice as great as in 2018 wildfire season
More than three million hectares of land have been destroyed by fire in 2023. This is more than twice as much as the amount of land burned in 2018, in the province’s second-worst wildfire season. (BC Wildfire Service)

British Columbia’s worst fire season has surpassed another record.

The fire damage from the 2023 wildfire season has now burned more than three million hectares. This is more than twice as great as the fire damage from the second-worst season on record.

As of Sept. 29, British Columbia had recorded 2,216 wildfires, destroying more than 3.02 million hectares.

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The majority of the damage came in the Prince George Fire Centre area, covering northeastern British Columbia. That part of the province recorded 666 wildfires, burning close to 2.46 million hectares. The Kamloops Fire Centre has had 387 wildfires, destroying 201,265 hectares, while the Northwest Fire Centre has had 275 wildfires, burning 174,789 hectares.

By comparison, the second-worst season on record was in 2018, when 2,117 fires destroyed 1,354,284 hectares. Firefighting efforts in 2018 reached $615 million.

The third-worst fire season in British Columbia was in 2017, when more than 1.2 million hectares of land was destroyed and roughly 65,000 people were evacuated.

The costs of wildfire suppression efforts in 2017 topped $649 million.

British Columbia calculates its wildfire season from April 1 to March 31, of the following year.

The four worst wildfire seasons on record in British Columbia have all occurred since 2017.

At the national level, Canada is also experiencing its worst wildfire season.

More than 173,000 square kilometres of land nationwide had been destroyed by wildfires by mid-September. This is more than double the past national wildfire record, set in 1989.

Included in the nationwide statistics were 29 fires of more than 100,000 hectares each.