With nearly 600 fires burning across the province, the B.C. government has asked the federal government to help with firefighting efforts. As of Monday morning, there were 27 evacuation orders in effect across the province affecting approximately 3,100 people, in addition to 43 evacuation alerts impacting approximately 17,900 people.
“This is an urgent situation, and the safety of British Columbians is our highest priority,” said Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general. “Due to the increase in the number of wildfires affecting communities and the extreme wildfire behaviour we are seeing, we’re asking for federal assistance for additional resources that may be needed to protect the public, property and infrastructure.”
The province is requesting 200 self-sufficient personnel to perform the mop-up and patrol of contained fires. The B.C. government would also like Ottawa to step in with a heavy-lift aircraft to reposition wildfire crews and equipment to new fire starts that threaten communities.
The plan is for these aircraft to assist with the resupply of existing operations which will permit BC Wildfire Service aircraft to be directed to the firefighting effort from resupply tasks.
Currently, there are more than 3,400 dedicated wildfire personnel responding to the wildfires burning in all areas of the province. This includes BC Wildfire Service crews, contractors, municipal firefighters, industry personnel and out-of-province crews from throughout Canada. On top of that, 100 firefighters from Mexico that were working in Ontario have been dispatched here.
“We’re bringing in the additional resources we need to keep people and communities as safe as possible,” said Doug Donaldson, minister of forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development. “I thank the federal government and the Canadian Armed Forces for their assistance, and also ask British Columbians to do their part by following burning bans to prevent human-caused fires.”
WATCH: Wildfire concerns in northwest B.C. (August 11)
The B.C. Liberals penned a letter to the provincial government on Saturday asking for them to request support from the federal government in battling the ongoing wildfires in the province. In a letter sent Saturday, six Liberal MLAs asked the province to provide more information about the government’s plan to “ensure the safety of our communities.”
“We would like to know the government’s strategy for acquisition and deployment of resources to help fight the fires on the front lines,” reads the letter. “As we know, the federal government and military are able to not only assist with front-line firefighting but also to provide essential emergency response services such as evacuation support.”
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