Hi everyone! 

Spring break is over now, so I’m back with a new round of research! In my last round of research, I looked into the effects of wildfires on human lives; that is, the people whose property is destroyed by wildfires as well as the all the money that is spent fighting and suppressing wildfires. This week, I am digging deeper into the history of Canada’s wildfires, researching which years were the worst and which years were the best in terms of in terms of numbers and sizes of the wildfires in the country for example, and if I can, I will try to find out why certain years were worse or better than others, and how these wildfires affected our country.  

 

To start off, here is a diagram that shows us the number of wildfires Canada has had throughout many years and the amount of land that was burned each year:

Chart showing Number of Fires and Area Burned by Year

This data was retrieved from the Canadian National Fire Database (CNFDB) from the years 1980 to 2017. It shows how the both the amount of wildfires and land burned in Canada have a lot of variability throughout the years, and you can see that the number of wildfires does not necessarily correlate exactly with the amount of area burned each year. From data in the National Forestry Database (NFD), there are more than 8000 fires every year and an average of more than 2.1 million hectares are burned from these fires. (1) 

To get a better idea of all the land burned in Canada over the years, here is a diagram that shows that information from 1980 to 2017: 

 Agency Provided Fire Perimeters

(1)  

Moving on to 2018 in British Columbia, in terms of the amount of area burned, that wildfire season is currently British Columbia’s most devastating. Nearly 13,000 square kilometres, or 1.250,383 hectares from April 1 2018, were burned throughout all of BC (2, 3, 4, 5). In total, it costed approximately 350.1 million dollars fighting fires that year, therefore being the second-most expensive year in the history of British Columbia (3). 

In this diagram, you can see just how extreme the risks for a wildfire were in British Columbia in 2018: 

 

(4) 

Over 3,000 Canadians were displaced from their homes from the 2018 British Columbia wildfire season, and more than 21,000 people were on alert in case it got worse and they had to evacuate too (2, 4, 5). 

The next most devastating wildfire season British Columbia has known is the year before, 2017 (2, 4, 6, 7). The 2017 wildfire season saw approximately 65,000 evacuated from their homes, roughly 12,161 square kilometres burned (2, 6, 7), and over 568 million dollars spent towards fire suppression (6, 7). 

Here is a chart that shows the rest of British Columbia’s worst wildfire seasons, in order of the number of square kilometres burned each year starting from 1950: 

 

(2) 

There are many reasons suggested by scientists that can explain why the last two wildfire seasons were so extremely severe in British Columbia. For example, they believe that there wasn’t enough controlled burning and aggressive firefighting efforts which have let potential fuels build up over time. However, scientists also say that the change in weather patterns caused by climate change has made things worse, creating warmer, drier weather and more lightning in our province (2). 

Most of 2018’s wildfires in British Columbia were caused by lightning, the number being 1,467. Another 443 wildfires were due to human activity (2, 4).  

Some of the ways that these human-caused wildfires started were because of campfires, cigarettes, flares and car crashes. So many of the 2018 wildfires in British Columbia were avoidable, and in times when there is a lot of fire activity, these human-induced fires redirect important resources away from the naturally caused wildfires that are unpreventable. (7) 

Sources: 

(1) http://cwfis.cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/h...e=poly&year=2017  

(2) https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada...-wildfires-1.4803546 

(3) https://globalnews.ca/news/441...ord-hectares-burned/ 

(4) https://www.narcity.com/ca/bc/...es-in-recent-history 

(5) https://www.vancourier.com/new...on-record-1.23416761  

(6) https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/con...dfire-season-summary  

(7) https://www.theglobeandmail.co...-so-far-this-season/ 

 

That’s it for this week! Next time, I will be concluding my research, using all the information I have will have gathered over the past months, I will decide how much funding the Canadian/BC government should be used for fire prevention/control as well as how it should be used. I will base this on what has been most negatively affected by wildfires and need the most support, what strategies have been used and how successful those strategies have been to prevent and suppress wildfires. 

Any suggestions, ideas or websites are welcome. Thanks for reading! 

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Original Post

Hi Jessica,

Great round of research!  I really like how you put the graph and pictures to show more data and to give a more visual aspect to your research.  It's really sad for me to hear about how many people are displaces from their homes because of the fires. It makes me wonder as to what those people do in those kind of situations, perhaps you could do some research about the options available to them. Here are some websites to help you out next round:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada...fires-2019-1.5062537

https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019FLNR0027-000428

https://globalnews.ca/news/498...dget-wildfire-costs/

Good work!

Great topic! I was walking on trails in Maple Ridge and could not believe how dry the branches were on the ground in March.  We can all agree that last summer was devastating  and many people, politicians and scientist have made recommendations after the loss.  It would be interesting to know what is  being done to prevent  a repeat of last year.  Is there something we can do  as students directly  or initiate to prevent or reduce the number of fires this summer?

Quebec has an example of forest fire prevention education for youth https://www.securitepublique.g...-material/youth.html

Alberta has some practical information on how to prevent wildfires caused by humans. https://www.firesmartcanada.ca...g-Your-Community.pdf

Looking forward to learning more about your research into prevention of forest fires  and action being taken.  - Kaley

Hello Jessica! 

Nice research round! Your post was detailed and organized. You’ve been doing this topic for since the beginning of the school year; consequently, I’m excited for your upcoming metamorphosis after your next round of research. Congratulations on making a comprehensive investigation into your inquiry question!! 

It’s interested how you mentioned that the number of wildfires and land burned in Canada have a lot of variability throughout the years. Furthermore, it’s intriguing how they don’t correlate with the amount of area burned each year. I particularly enjoyed reading your explanation on the reasons why the last two summers were particularly brutal in British Colombia. 

Nonetheless, it is heartbreaking to witness the damage wildfires cause when they make thousands displaced. Consequently, for your next research round, I suggest that you may be interested in researching the organizations and groups that help support those who lost their homes. It’d be a nice way to wrap up your research too. You could also investigate how people managed to evacuate their livestock+pets and what happened to the animals left behind. Evidently, there are also many animals raised in the BC interior. I've read an intriguing and heartwarming article on how officers were doing their best to patrol communities and guide the livestock+pets to reunite them with their owners. You may want to take a read! 

 

Suggested websites that may help out: 

https://globalnews.ca/news/358...17-how-you-can-help/  

https://www.moneysense.ca/news/help-bc-wildfires/  

https://globalnews.ca/news/361...-displaced-by-fires/  

 

Can’t wait until your next post 

Alison 

Hello Jessica,
It’s really amazing how so many fires happen due to lightning, though I guess it does make more sense than anything else. The amount of fires caused by humans though is quite disappointing especially when things like cigarette butts. Hopefully, in the future, these sorts of incidents happen less commonly, and more resources can be diverted to the non-preventable fires. I remember from camping of them having all the signs about extinguishing the fires, and not leaving them burning overnight cause the sparks can light the grass and other dry things like tents. I always remember dumping water over the fire to hear the sizzle, It was always my favorite part about the fire. The sad part is that I remember that It was in the news that there was an electrical company that started a fire by accident and ended up displacing and burning down the houses of a few thousand people in the US and ended up filing for bankruptcy cause they ended up getting sued so much. So I wonder then if the government could fine the people that start fires to make up at least a partial amount of the cost of the human-caused fires. Can’t way to see how you conclude your research and answer the question of how much funding should be given.

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