The British Columbia Wildfire Service has confirmed there are 159 fires burning across the province, forcing the evacuation of 39,000 residents from their homes, up from 14,000 last week. Among the Australian firefighters en route to Canada, are six South Australians with expertise in logistics, planning and fire mapping.
British Columbia chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said, in a conference call, that the Australians were due to arrive on Wednesday.
“In a few cases, it is because we had amalgamated some of these fires together,” he said. “But for the most part, that decrease in terms of the total fires burning is an indication of progress.” Skrepnek also said the area burned for the wildfire season was estimated at 465,000 acres, costing the province $70.92m.
The Northern Territory is sending one firefighter to Canada, while four firefighters from Western Australia will also lend a hand. “It is a little bit daunting, but I will be working alongside Australia’s very best incident management teams and hopefully, we will be in a position to allow the Canadians to take some time off,” NT Fire and Rescue Service district officer David Letheby said.
CFS state coordinator, Leigh Miller added: “A state of emergency has been declared in British Columbia as continued hot, dry weather is resulting in record breaking fire weather, and assistance is required to copy with current and anticipated wild land fire activity.”
The Australians are expected to work two 14-day shifts while away with just a two-day rest break.