Ongoing Canadian wildfires could affect future log and timber availability

Canadian wood products producers monitor the situation closely as the fires continue

Wildfires burning in the Northwest Territories and British Columbia are exacerbating what was already by far the fiercest wildfire season in Canada’s history.

Wildfires intensified over the weekend, forcing more people living in the interior of British Columbia to evacuate their communities.

“The current situation is grim,” said British Columbia Premier David Eby.

One of the latest major fires is near Kelowna. About 35,000 people in that area were under an evacuation order early in the week. Meanwhile, a fire near Yellowknife, the capital city of the Northwest Territories, forced evacuations of nearly all of its residents.

Multiple fires near Adams Lake in the Shuswap region of British Columbia burned blocks of homes in several communities, according to news reports. A mill in the area survived the blaze, but was surrounded by fires.

Fires shut down some sections of key highways. Portions of the TransCanada highway were closed, the main artery between Vancouver and Eastern Canada. A ban on non-essential travel was ordered in B.C. so that firefighters, emergency crews, and evacuees could stay in vacated hotel rooms.

Canadian log availability is under threat

One Canadian producer went off the market late last week in response to the fires and their potential effect on future log availability. Others were monitoring the situation closely.

According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, the area burned so far this year surpassed 15 million hectares. That total is equivalent to 37.1 million acres, roughly the size of Georgia. The area burned so far is also over twice as large as the previous record of 7.1 million hectares set in 1995.

Through August 22, 5,881 fires were started across Canada, more than last year’s total but less than 2021. Active fires totaled 1,034, with 651 of them classified as “out of control.”

Natural Resources Canada reports that drought and above-normal temperatures in July throughout much of the country have been key contributors to fire activity. Abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions have expanded into northern Yukon and northern Northwest Territories.

Although the area burned in Canada continues to grow, the pace set early in the season has eased. However, ongoing drought in Canada is expected to allow large fires to continue burning into the fall.

Meanwhile in the US, the National Interagency Fire Center reports that 83 current wildfires have burned 622,775 acres in more than 16 states. For the year 36,957 fires have torched more than 1.8 million acres across the country.

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