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B.C. wildfire crews heading to Oregon to fight fires

The province has announced 200 B.C. WIldfire personnel are heading to the United States to assist in battling wildfires in Oregon.
September 17, 2020 - 8:44 AM

B.C. wildfire fighters are heading south to assist their American counterparts.

More than 200 B.C. wildfire fighters and related personnel are being deployed to Redmond, Oregon to assist with a number of wildfires burning in that state, according to a Ministry of Forests media release.

British Columbia and the governments of Oregon and Washington are in contact with each other as discussions continue regarding the possibility of sending an additional 200 personnel in the coming days.

"Over 800 BC Wildfire Service personnel volunteered to go into someone else's community and to someone else's fire to do what they can to make sure people are safe," Premier John Horgan said in the release. "That is just extraordinary, and it speaks volumes about our compassion and our commitment to helping each other. I'm very proud of those individuals."

B.C. wildfire personnel will remain in their own “bubble” and conduct firefighting operations separately from American actions as a COVID-19 pandemic precaution.

U.S. officials say dozens of wildfires are burning across California and Idaho, as well as Washington and Oregon, and firefighters have been requested from Canada, nine other U.S. states and as far away as Israel.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said B.C. has experienced a moderate wildfire season and the province is fortunate to be able to help.

"B.C. firefighters who are willing to be deployed out of the country during this challenging time deserve a lot of credit for their professionalism," he said in the statement.

B.C. has agreed to send initial attack firefighters trained to be first at the scene of new blazes.

Several 20-member crews that can work on large fires and remain self-sufficient in the field for up to 72 hours have also been assigned, along with managers, supervisors and other leaders, the statement said.

All costs will be covered by the jurisdiction that requested the resources, including additional B.C. wildfire staff quarantine time upon their return to Canada.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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