British Columbia’s government took the unprecedented step on Wednesday of extending a state of emergency by two weeks as it battled 140 wildfires that have forced about 45,000 people from their homes.
The province’s Premier John Horgan said evacuated households would receive C$600 ($476.53) from the government to cover basic needs for every 14 days they cannot return home. The government announced the first such payment earlier this month after establishing a C$100 million fund.
“Traditionally when an emergency is declared people are usually back in their homes within the two week period. That may not be the case for many individuals,” Horgan told reporters, in his first major announcement since taking office on Tuesday.
On July 7, the Canadian province declared its first state of emergency since 2003 as gusty winds fanned fires that were caused by lightning and humans in the tinder-dry central and southern regions.
The fires have shut mines and timber operations and damaged homes and electrical infrastructure.
Canadian military aircraft have joined thousands of firefighters from as far away as Australia to battle the fires.