B.C. sends wildland firefighters, helicopter to fight Alaskan blazes

Close-up of a controlled burn near Lytton last year.

KAMLOOPS - Wildland firefighters from B.C. who use helicopters and rope-rappelling techniques to battle remote forest fire are heading north to help Alaska.

Forests and Lands Minister Steve Thomson says seven firefighters, known as rapattack personnel, and one helicopter will travel from Salmon Arm, B.C., to Delta Junction, Alaska, about 130 kilometres southeast of Fairbanks.

Thomson says the firefighters are expected to leave Saturday morning, joining two airtankers, an aircraft, and an air-attack officer who are already in Palmer, Alaska.

The firefighters and resources were offered through a resource-sharing agreement between northwestern U.S. states and Canadian provinces, with the requesting jurisdiction required to cover costs.

The ministry says crews can be deployed for up to 19 days, can be recalled at any time, and there are sufficient resources in B.C. to respond to domestic wildfires.

Thomson says B.C.'s wildland firefighters are recognized as the world's best, and the province is pleased to be able to lend assistance to other jurisdictions when it can.

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