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

Former Kelowna cop faces fourth lawsuit alleging sexual assault

Ex-Mountie Brian Mathew Burkett is also separately facing seven charges of breach of trust

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Smoky skies clearing throughout B.C. Interior

Environment Canada expects “widespread” improvement for all affected areas by Sunday

Penticton wildfire crew goes from Christie Mountain to Cold Springs

The team at Eagle Ridge Consulting is helping fight fires across the border

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Squabble over mask policy at LUSH in Kelowna mall

The woman filmed the encounter at LUSH Cosmetics, where wearing a mask in-store is company policy

Cops For Kids ride wraps in Okanagan

No pomp, no circumstance for end of milestone 20th anniversary fundraising bicycle trip

Province opens ‘middle income’ housing in Kelowna

Prices on the units are $1,300 for a one-bedroom and $1,780 for a two-bedroom, nearing area-average prices

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Reward offered for return of Okanagan puppy

An 11-week-old boxer-mastiff cross pup was allegedly taken from its Kelowna Friday, Sept. 18

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Most Read