Canadian Forces Chinook helicopter delivers personnel and equipment to 2017 B.C. wildfire effort. (Canadian Forces)

Ottawa agrees to send B.C. help in wildfire battle

Canadian Forces to join foreign crews as B.C. reaches 600 fires

Calling it an “urgent situation,” B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth ‘s call for federal assistance with wildfire control was greeted with approval.

The request sent Monday for 200 personnel who can work independently in the back country, plus aircraft for equipment delivery and possible emergency evacuation flights, was soon answered by federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

Canadian Army and Air Force units were called in last summer and the call has gone out again, with evacuation orders affecting more than 3,000 people and another 43 alerts in place around the province.

Due to the increase in the number of wildfires affecting communities and the extreme wildfire behaviour we’re seeing, we’re asking for federal assistance for additional resources that may be needed to protect the public, property and infrastructure,” Farnworth said.

Farnworth said the request is for “200 self-contained personnel who are able to stay out in the bush for quite some time, whose job it would be to mop up and control the fire zones on those fires that have been contained.

“That will help free up additional resources here in B.C.,” Farnworth said. “We’ve also asked for additional heavy lifting aircraft to be able to move heavy equipment to where it’s needed, as well as the potential of emergency aircraft to assist in evacuations from remote communities.”

B.C. has 3,400 wildfire personnel working on 600 fires across the province, including contractors, municipal firefighters, forest industry personnel and out-of-province crews from across Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.

Farnworth said while the total area affected is about one quarter what B.C. faced last year, the number of fires is above the 10-year average. “Last year there were fewer fires, but they were vastly larger than what we’re seeing today,” he said.

B.C. has spent about $207 million so far on the fire season, substantially less than last year’s record season.

“One of the big impacts in terms of costs last year that we have not faced to date this year has been the evacuation and housing of people and all of the resources that went into ensuring that their needs are met,” Farnworth said.

BC legislaturebc wildfires

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Social housing planner position back before North Cowichan council

Staff present report on implications of not hiring a new senior social and housing planner

Shawnigan Hills parkrun report for Feb. 15

Shawnigan Hills parkrun began 20 weeks ago and, with the exception of… Continue reading

Arts & Entertainment column: Music of all kinds coming to Cowichan

A few of the things coming up in arts and entertainment in Cowichan

Cow High T-Birds preserve berth in Islands

Cowichan boys fend off challenge from Spectrum

Vehicle, welding machines recovered from theft at Crofton’s Geo-Tech Industries

Suspects still not identified from early Tuesday morning break-in at Crofton business

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

UPDATE: Lockdown lifted at Nanaimo high school following threats

Nearby elementary school was in hold-and-secure

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

Most Read