Simpson: "We're very close...to a catastrophic fire event."

Earlier, we reported the provincial government's direct forest fire fighting forecasts are dramatically lower than the average amount spent on such activities during the past ten fiscal years. In an interview with Public Eye, Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell explained the government is upgrading its tanker bases and dispatch system - an initiative that should "reduce our costs over the long term." But what does his New Democrat critic Bob Simpson have to say about those figures?

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Vast swaths of rotting Mountain Pine Beetle-killed forests, climate change, increased fuel loads due to past forestry management practices, stressed forests, expanding development placing more people at risk - everything points to higher risks.

The only variables are whether it'll turn out to be an unusually long/hot summer this year or not, and where the lightning or cigarette butts will strike. But we won't know that until after May, so it seems like a pretty safe bet for them.

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