By: Tim Petruk (Kamloops This Week)

The lengthiest provincewide state of emergency in B.C.’s history ended on Friday, and the final regional evacuation orders were rescinded on the weekend, but officials caution British Columbians are not quite out of the woods when it comes to this summer’s unprecedented wildfire season.

The province declared a state of emergency on July 7, when wildfires in the Interior began to grow quickly in size and number. The order was extended multiple times.

“What we’re seeing today is the lifting of the provincial state of emergency,” Forests Minister Doug Donaldson told reporters. “We still have certain areas and certain regions facing volatile situations.”

But the fire season does appear to be slowing given the changing weather.

BC Wildfire Service chief information officer Kevin Skrepnek said 155 fires are burning in the province. Three new fires were reported on Thursday.

Since April 1, Skrepnek said, 1,256 blazes have been reported, scorching an estimated area of 1,191,306 hectares — more than any other year on record — and running up a bill of nearly $519 million.

This year’s firefighting budget was $63 million.

In the Kamloops area, the Elephant Hill fire is now an estimated 192,000 hectares in size and 60 per cent contained. A summer of smoke finally cleared as September arrived, but Kamloopsians awoke on Sunday to that familiar haze and campfire smell.

As temperatures cool, Skrepnek said the fires’ impact is becoming more clear.

“We are getting much more accurate perimeters mapped out,” he said.

Skrepnek said fire season is not over, but he said the forecast — calling for cooling temperatures and rain next week — is encouraging.

“Certainly, in terms of extreme fire behaviour . . . that shift is going to definitely significantly calm down the activity out there on some of our fires,” he said.

Police across B.C. are ramping down their wildfire efforts.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Annie Linteau said Mounties are largely returning to day-to-day, regular operations.

“As the number of evacuation orders and alerts have declined, the RCMP have started to remove checkpoints,” she said. “Our police officers remain available for assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Linteau said an estimated 4,400 Mounties and RCMP employees worked on wildfire-related issues over the summer. She said additional RCMP resources will remain “strategically located” in areas including 100 Mile House.