More than 1,750 firefighters and support crew worked overnight on Monday to slow the spread of fire across New South Wales. (Wolter Peters photo/NSW Rural Fire Service)

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

BC Wildfire Service personnel have been sent to Australia to help with firefighting efforts.

The seven operational personnel are part of a contingent of 22 Canadians that have been deployed for 38 days, though the need to deploy additional resources in the coming months remains a possibility.

“It’s only late spring in Australia, but an early and extreme wildfire season in the eastern part of the country has already stretched Australia’s firefighting resources and led to fatalities, property losses and the destruction of large areas of New South Wales and Queensland,” said Doug Donaldson, minister of forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development, in a news release. “Currently, Australia has about 1,100 firefighters working on its wildfires.”

According to news.com.au firefights have been facing long nights battling blazes stretching from New South Wales South Coast all the way to the Queensland Border. Several communities in New South Wales are threatened.

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This is the first time since 2009 that Australia has asked for firefighting support from Canada, though they sent firefighters to B.C. in 2017 and 2018.

“We greatly appreciated their assistance during those difficult years, and we welcome the opportunity to help out our Australian friends now,” said Donaldson.

BC people that are heading to Australia include:

  • planning section chief
  • two operations section chiefs
  • two air tanker group supervisors
  • air operations branch director
  • heavy equipment branch director

The crew flew into Sydney on Dec. 3, 2019 and will be returning Jan. 10, 2020.

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