The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is reporting that summer wildfires in the Okanagan and Shuswap area have caused more than $720-million in insured damage, the most costly insured event ever recorded in British Columbia. The event is also the tenth costliest in Canadian history, they say.

Basing estimates on data from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ), broken down the Shuswap area Bush Creek East wildfire caused more than $240-million in insured damage, while the Okanagan area McDougall Creek wildfire caused more than $480-million in insured damage.

Aaron Sutherland, vice president, pacific and western with the IBC says the season has broken all records in terms of land burned and damage caused to homes and businesses.

The Bush Creek East wildfire, which began in mid-July, burned in a relatively unpopulated area until it spread rapidly through North Shuswap communities, including Scotch Creek and Celista. “The fire did extensive damage to properties north of Shuswap Lake. More than 270 structures are confirmed to have been destroyed,” IBC states. They add that the fire also caused extensive damage to public infrastructure, including hydro power poles, resulting in outages. 

The McDougall Creek, Clark Creek and Walroy Lake wildfires – the Okanagan area fires – began in mid-August and spread quickly, fuelled by hot, dry and windy conditions. “Many properties were completely destroyed,” they write.