The massive military effort to help fight British Columbia's record number of serious forest fires will end on Tuesday, the Canadian Armed Forces said.
Continued cool, wet weather, with more rain in the forecast, has allowed crews to begin mopping up the most dangerous fires, prompting an end to what Canadian forces had dubbed Operation Peregrine.
"The direct threat to Canadian lives and property has diminished to the extent that the military is no longer required to support the firefighting efforts," task force commander Brigadier-General Ivan Fenton said in a news release.
At the peak, about 2,000 soldiers, sailors and air force personnel worked on the fire line and in support roles. In all, about 2,600 fulltime and reserve personnel took part in the 45-day deployment - Canada's second-largest military operation after Afghanistan.
Brig-Gen. Fenton said the military would continue to monitor the fire situation through the B.C. government for the next couple of weeks.
The reduced fire threat has allowed B.C. forestry officials to reopen fire-ravaged areas in the southern part of the province to outdoor activities, but with a warning not to impede remaining firefighting operations.
The B.C. Forests Protection Branch lifted a campfire ban on Monday in the Kamloops fire centre, which covers one of the areas hit worst by wildfires last month.
Unrestricted use of campfires was being allowed and officials said this, coupled with the recent lifting of backcountry travel restrictions in the region, means large numbers of campers and hunters are expected to re-enter the backcountry.
They warned people to avoid areas with still active forest fires. Large numbers of firefighters and their equipment were still working in those areas, the ministry said in a release, and travellers should stay away from forest-fire perimeters.
Road usage around forest-fire areas was still being regulated.
In all, about 4,100 people were still involved in the firefighting effort directly or in support, fire information officer George Maratos said on Monday.
The military would begin reducing its personnel immediately, with redeployment expected to be complete by the end of this month, the armed forces said.
On Sunday, the first day in several weeks no new fires were reported, the B.C. government lifted a provincewide state of emergency declared on Aug. 2 after thousands of people fled fast-moving fires near Kamloops.
The worst of them, the 264-square-kilometre McLure-Barriere fire about 40 kilometres north of Kamloops now is contained but officials say it will take weeks to mop up. The 114-kilometre McGillivray fire, east of Kamloops was also totally contained.
The 256-square-kilometre Okanagan Mountain Park fire, which forced 30,000 people to flee suburbs in Kelowna, was 90 per cent contained but crews also face a lengthy mop-up operation.
Meanwhile, Canada's insurance industry said on Monday that it has already paid out $200 million to B.C. forest-fire victims.
"We're very proud of the way insurers have responded to this crisis," said Dennis Prouse, Pacific region manager for government relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada. "Everybody's making this a top priority."
Fire destroyed about 240 homes in upscale subdivisions on the southeastern edge of Kelowna. Dozens of houses, mobile homes, businesses and an entire sawmill were razed by the McLure-Barriere fire, which incinerated the village of Louis Creek.
Residents of the village of complained insurance companies have been slow to respond to their claims.
"We're pulling out all the stops to make sure that these people get assistance right away because it's vital," Mr. Prouse said in a news release. "Their lives have been turned upside down and it's the role of this industry to make them whole again."
The B.C. government estimates its cost for fighting the fires will be about $550 million, 10 times this season's firefighting budget.