August 06, 2014 - 4:26 PM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - Several wildfire specialist management teams from Australia will touch down in Vancouver this weekend to help respond to several wildfires across the province.
“The high number of active wildfires in the province is stretching our firefighting resources,” said Minister of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Steve Thomson.
“In addition to the support we have already received from other Canadian provinces and territories, we are grateful for the assistance we will be receiving from the Australian State of Victoria.”
The country’s roughly 80 personnel will be deployed throughout B.C and join more than 1,600 provincial staff, 860 contractors and over 200 out-of-province personnel. The group comprises of incident management teams, fire behaviour specialists, aircraft co-ordinators and support staff. The province has not requested ground crews. Australia’s specialists could remain in B.C. for up to five weeks.
Both B.C. and Australia have a 15-year-long relationship of working together to combat wildfires by exchanging personnel, knowledge, equipment and technology.
B.C. Wildfire teams travelled to Australia in 2007 and 2009 to help with busier fire seasons. Personnel from New Zealand and Australia assisted the province in 2009.
There are currently 222 wildfires burning in B.C. Because of hot and dry weather conditions, the fire danger rating has elevated. The majority of the province is experiencing a “high” to “extreme” fire danger rating.
Due to conditions, firefighting crews are on standby in all six of B.C.’s fire centres.
B.C. Wildfire has responded to over 1,000 wildfires so far this season. Most were lightning-caused. As lightning activity increases, the public is reminded to take extra caution to prevent person-caused wildfires. Each human-caused fire diverts resources from fires caused by lightning.
To report a wildfire or an unattended campfire, call 1-800-663-5555 or dial *5555 on a cell phone.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014