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Northwest Heatwave Keeps Wildfire Support Out Of British Columbia

British Columbia’s wildfire season has been deemed “unprecedented.” The province needs help from its neighbors to the south. But they may not be able to get it.

More than 1 million acres have burned in British Columbia so far this summer. But Washington Department of Natural Resources Fire Operations Chief Aaron Schmidt said right now all he can do is talk daily with his Canadian counterparts. 

“I truly don’t believe we have any availability for excess resources to be shipped up to British Columbia right now between the fires we have and the fires we will get,” Schmidt said.

Canada and the United States have a mutual agreement to assist in wildland firefighting. But in Washington, things aren’t looking so hot—or rather they are looking a little too hot. 

“We aren’t quite to the witching hour, if you will, of historical fire seasons,” Schmidt said. “That’s still in the next few weeks.”

Schmidt said excessive heat and a long dry spell could set Washington up for a situation similar to what happened in 2015, when more than a million acres burned statewide. 

Oregon is also facing peak fire season, with triple-digit temperatures all over the state.

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Emily Schwing
Emily Schwing comes to the Inland Northwest by way of Alaska, where she covered social and environmental issues with an Arctic spin as well as natural resource development, wildlife management and Alaska Native issues for nearly a decade. Her work has been heard on National Public Radio’s programs like “Morning Edition” and “All things Considered.” She has also filed for Public Radio International’s “The World,” American Public Media’s “Marketplace,” and various programs produced by the BBC and the CBC. She has also filed stories for Scientific American, Al Jazeera America and Arctic Deeply.