Wildfires and evacuations

Wildfires and forest fires can have a direct impact on British Columbians. We work closely with local and provincial emergency response officials to help monitor wildfire situations in the province, ensure public safety and protect our natural gas and electricity infrastructure.

Public and employee safety is the number one priority for FortisBC. With risk of forest fires high in our province during the summer months, we encourage the public to take steps to safely prepare their property and build contingency plans in the event of service outages.

Find out what you and your family can to do to prepare for a wildfire at PreparedBC or Firesmart BC.

Being prepared

We encourage our customers to pay attention to how they are using their natural gas and electricity at their property, and create contingency plans for safely managing during a period without service. Some ways customers can prepare for a service disruption include:

  • Have an emergency kit with enough supplies for at least 72 hours and store it in a location easily found in the dark. 
  • Have a safe, alternate method for preparing and storing food. Remember to never use outdoor cooking appliances indoors.
  • Have a backup plan for safely meeting hot water needs. 
  • Ensure you have a backup power system with sufficient capacity to safely maintain medical equipment or other critical equipment.
  • If you require a pump for water handling on your property, consider having a generator or another backup power system ready to manage the load.
  • Other considerations are lighting, space heating and powering computers, routers, cell phones and other equipment needed to stay in touch during an emergency. 

FortisBC will maintain services to evacuated properties as long as it is safe and we are able to do so. However, it’s always important to have backup plans for food storage, critical equipment and any other functions that require interrupted services.

Your natural gas service during evacuation

Do not shut off your natural gas if you receive an evacuation order. If fire or emergency officials request FortisBC to do so, we will turn off natural gas service as a precautionary measure, or if there is an immediate threat to FortisBC infrastructure.

Once fire or emergency officials confirm the situation is safe, FortisBC takes a number of steps to safely restore natural gas service:

  • We will assess the natural gas system in the affected area, repair any damage and reactivate the affected system.
  • FortisBC crews will visit each home to relight all affected appliances and restore gas service at the meter, if required.

If you are not at home, a FortisBC technician will leave a door tag that provides contact information. Call 1-877-711-8877 for relights.

Important: if you choose to do any excavating or trenching on your property to mitigate for fire risk, contact BC 1 Call at 1-800-474-6886 or bc1c.ca to get location details of natural gas lines and other underground utilities. During a wildfire, these requests will be processed as emergencies.

Your electricity service after an evacuation

After a fire, FortisBC will visually inspect each property for damage to buildings and electrical infrastructure before restoring power. Customers from the impacted areas will be asked to update our customer service team with their current contact information.

If your buildings or other structures are damaged by fire, please note that we require an affidavit signed by a licensed electrician before we can safely restore service to your premises. See Technical Safety BC's protocol on service restoration for more information about safely restoring service to your property.

We also encourage customers to contact us with any questions or specific concerns about their electric service.

Find a licensed contractor in your area.

Your natural gas service when you return home after an evacuation

Only local fire officials can make the decision to lift an evacuation order, and they will do so in consultation with other agencies including FortisBC. Once an evacuation order is lifted, customers will be able to return to their homes.

  • If gas has been turned off due to an emergency, FortisBC will first ensure the natural gas system is safe. Once complete, FortisBC crews will visit your home to relight your appliances.
  • If your gas was turned off; that is, the service valve on your meter is turned to the "off" position (crosswise to the pipe), do not turn it on yourself. For everyone's safety, FortisBC crews will visit your home to restore gas service and "relight" affected appliances. If you were away when our technician arrived, call 1-877-711-8877 to have one return and restore service to your residence. 
  • If you have concerns with your natural gas system, or if you smell rotten eggs or hear the sound of escaping gas, go outside and call the FortisBC 24-Hour Emergency Line at 1-800-663-9911 or dial 9-1-1.

Damaged appliances? Call a licensed gas contractor

Don’t try to put natural gas appliances back in service yourself. Do not use any gas appliances that have been damaged, until they have been thoroughly inspected by a licensed gas contractor.

The contractor will check, repair and test the pressure of all gas pipes that may have been affected by the forest fire. They will make sure that all your gas equipment is safe to operate.

Find a licensed contractor in your area.

Smell gas?

If you smell rotten eggs or hear the sound of escaping gas, go outside and call the FortisBC 24-Hour Emergency Line at 1-800-663-9911 or dial 9-1-1.