More help on way to fight fires

Crews are coming from the U.S. and Mexico

  • Aug. 9, 2017 8:00 p.m.

More international fire crews have arrived in B.C. to help fight the continuing battle against wildfires in the south and central Interior. In an update last week, chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said 108 personnel from Mexico were set to arrive in the province, and about 27 firefighters had arrived over the weekend from the U.S.

The B.C. Wildfire Service put in a request for more help as national support began to ebb. Skrepnek said other provinces were preparing to deal with their own wildfires. Ontario asked for crews from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan as part of the cross-border Great Lakes forest fire agreement.

“They’re certainly not new to fighting fires” in this part of the country, Skrepnek said, as some have helped Alberta in previous years.

As of last week, there had been 840 fires across B.C. since April 1, with 138 active wildfires burning. Firefighting costs for the 460,000 hectares that had burned so far this season exceeded $200 million.

The roughly 130 international personnel joined close to 4000 crew members already working across B.C. Of those, 761 are also out of province, while 1500 are contractors. The ground crews are supported by nearly 200 aircraft.

As of last week, the biggest fire and ongoing challenge for crews was the Elephant Hill fire, near Cache Creek. Five hundred personnel were focusing on this blaze, which Skrepnek described as aggressive.

Vanderhoof Omineca Express