Looking Back on the 2017 Wildfire Season

California and British Columbia Hardest Hit Regions

If there was one thing that tied most of us together worldwide in the past year, it was wildfires. Many continents around the globe had them burning but parts of the United States and Canada were hit particularly hard. In fact, the 2017 wildfire season set several records. It was the most expensive year on record for firefighting according to the US Forest Service. Costs topped $2-billion.


In California, the 2017 fire season erased several entries in the record books. It was the most destructive one ever recorded with 9,054 total fires that burned well over 1.3-million acres. It was also a fire season that never completely ended. In October there were 250 new fires which set additional records for causing property losses in excess of $9.4-billion.

But that was not all. Another wave of wildfires was ignited in December thanks to strong Santa Ana winds. The largest of them was the Thomas Fire which was located in Ventura County. It was finally brought under control on January 12, 2018 and was the seventh-most destructive wildfire in California history. It destroyed over 1,060 structures and burned over 281,000 acres.

The season had been punctuated with five of the twenty most destructive wildfires in the history of the state. The largest of them was the Tubbs Fire which burned 36,807 acres in Napa/Sonoma County and destroyed 5,643 structures. A total of 20,000 evacuees resulted from the October wildfires and a State of Emergency was in place in California in response to the December fires.

British Columbia

The 2017 wildfire season was also a record setting series of events in British Columbia. The season ran from July 6th to September 20th and set three records. A total of just over 3-million acres was burned – the most ever recorded. The fires also resulted in the highest number of total evacuees, over 39,000, leaving their homes in a single wildfire season.

The largest single fire in British Columbia history resulted when the Baezaeko River Fire, Tautri Lake Complex, Chezacut Fire and Arc Mountain Fire all merged on August 18th. They were renamed Nazko Complex and burned over 1.067-million acres. The British Columbia wildfires also attracted a great deal of international attention for a slightly different reason.

There were over 4,000 firefighters on the ground working the wildfires with 50 of them from Australia, 80 from New Zealand and 108 from Mexico. A State of Emergency was declared July 7th and was extended four times before being lifted September 15th. It was the longest state of emergency in BC history and the first one called in the past fourteen years.

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