A look back at the biggest wildfires to ever burn across B.C.

A look back at the biggest wildfires to ever burn across B.C.

The list is made up of the ten biggest fires based on hectares of size

A number of particularly large and destructive wildfires have occurred in B.C. over the years. Here’s a look back at the 10 biggest fires in B.C. history based on size.

Great Vancouver Wildfire – 1886

On June 13, 1886, a fire destroyed most of Vancouver, which had only been incorporated three months earlier and was still surrounded by forest. A clearing fire blazed out of control and in one hour only two of the 400 original buildings were left standing. As a result, it was decided that replacement construction should be of brick stone or cast iron.

The fire killed at least 21 people.

Wisp Wildfire – 1950

The fire burned from north of the Fort St. John area into Alberta along the Chinchaga River. The total area burned was 1.4 million hectares. The B.C. portion was 90,000 hectares.

Penticton Wildfire – 1994

The Penticton Wildfire, also known as the Garnet fire, occurred in 1994. More than 5,500 hectares were burned, over 3,500 people were evacuated, and 18 homes and structures were lost. The fact that the fire occurred in an interface area increased the severity of the damage.

Salmon Arm Wildfire – 1998

One of British Columbia’s worst wildfires occurred in 1998 in the Salmon Arm area. It burned over 6,000 hectares, caused the evacuation of approximately 7,000 people, destroyed 40 buildings, and cost over $10 million to extinguish.

READ MORE: BC Wildfire continues suppression efforts on Christie Mountain blaze

Okanagan Mountain Park Wildfire – 2003

The Okanagan Mountain Park Wildfire, during the 2003 fire season, was the most significant interface wildfire event in B.C. history. The fire’s final size was 25,600 hectares. Much of B.C. was affected, but the communities of Naramata and Kelowna suffered the most when the blaze caused the evacuation of 33,050 people (4,050 of these people were also evacuated for a second time) and 238 homes were lost or damaged. The fire also claimed 12 wooden trestles and damaged two other steel trestles in the historic Myra Canyon.

Lava Canyon Wildfire – 2009

Lava Canyon in the Chilcotin saw the largest wildfire of the 2009 season at 66,719 hectares (667 square kilometers) and led to evacuation orders and alerts.

Binta Lake Wildfire – 2010

Binta Lake Wildfire, south of Burns Lake, grew from 7,000 hectares to about 35,000 hectares in a 12-hour period due to dry conditions and strong winds. At its final size of 40,000 hectares (400 square kilometers), this was the single largest blaze of 2010 and resulted in evacuation orders and alerts.

Chelaslie River Wildfire – 2014

This wildfire occurred seven kilometres south of the Chelaslie River and burned an area of 133,098 hectares (1,331 square kilometres), including sections of Entiako Provincial Park. This fire resulted in several evacuation alerts and orders.

Elephant Hill Wildfire – 2017

This wildfire started on July 6, 2017, about 2.5 kilometres southwest of Ashcroft. It eventually burned 191,865 hectares in B.C.’s south-central Interior region, including parts of both the Kamloops Fire Centre and Cariboo Fire Centre.

The BC Wildfire Service’s fire specialists’ report indicated that the most likely cause of the Elephant Hill wildfire was smoking or smoking materials, such as a cigarettes or cigars.

North Baezaeko Wildfire – 2018

The fire located south of Kluskoil Lake Park and 85 km west of Quesnel was discovered on Aug. 1, 2020. Lightning was believed to be the cause and prompted evacuation orders and alerts.

All information provided by BC Wildfire Services

bc wildfires

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

On the first day of his retirement, April 12, 2021, Marcel Bedard, former Salmon Arm bylaw enforcement officer, looks over a scrapbook he created of his 24 years on the job. (Lachlan Labere - Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm bylaw officer parks his parking tickets after 24 years

Despite the insults that go with the job, Marcel Bedard enjoyed his work for the city

(Natalia Cuevas-Huaico - Kelowna Capital News)
Missy MacKintosh, founder of MisMacK Clean Cosmetics, smiles broadly beneath her mask as she is thrilled to have opened her new storefront location at 231 Alexander St. in Salmon Arm on April 10, 2021. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Downtown Salmon Arm store ‘a dream come true’ for clean cosmetics owner

Missy MacKintosh’s MisMack Clean Cosmetics moves from home basement to storefront

Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. Photo provided and colourized by Jiri Ferdinand.
QUIZ: How much do you know about the world’s most famous shipwreck?

Titanic sank 109 years ago today, after hitting an iceberg

In a feature article published April 10, 2021 in The Times of London, ‘headlined British Columbia has what it takes to rival Napa Valley,’ the valley is praised extensively for its natural beauty and wine. (File photo)
From the U.K. with love: Okanagan wine, scenery receives international praise

The Times of London newspaper recently featured the valley in a wine and travel piece

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. sees 873 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, decline continues

Hospitalizations up to 377, two more deaths for 1,515 total

(AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, FIle)
Rare blood clots ‘may be linked’ to AstraZeneca vaccines: Health Canada

One case of the adverse effect has been reported in Canada

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP are looking for the rightful owners of two standup paddleboards seized in an investigation March 19, 2021. (RCMP)
Is this your SUP?: Vernon police

Two standup paddleboards seized by police to be returned

Two men walk past a sign on Main Street in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calls for government transparency in COVID data continue as B.C.’s 3rd wave wears on

Social media, where both information and misinformation can spread like wildfire, has not helped

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Observers ‘gutted’ as pair filmed removing red dresses hung along B.C. highway

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Indigenous Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

A grey whale off the coast of Vancouver Island is being monitored by Canadian and U.S. researchers, as it has developed lesions after being tagged last year. To try and prevent systemic infection from developing, the team administered antibiotics to the whale on March 31 and April 1. (Photo from the NOAA Fisheries website)
Grey whale off Vancouver Island develops lesions after being tagged, researchers monitor its condition

Canadian and U.S. whale experts administered antibiotics to the animal on March 31, April 1

Sharis Carr, a nurse at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center in Clarksdale, Miss., holds a box containing doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, April 7, 2021. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
EXPLAINER: What’s known about COVID vaccines and rare clots

These are not typical blood clots – they’re weird in two ways

Most Read