South African Fire Fighters to Arrive in B.C.
Prince George, B.C.- A crew of 25 forest fire fighters from South Africa will be arriving in B.C. this week.
Most of the personnel from Ontario and Australia who have been assisting in battling wildfires in B.C. for the past month, will be heading home soon, with all returning to their home bases by this time next week. The crew from South Africa has been in Alberta assisting fire fighting efforts in that province.
The team’s arrival in B.C. will allow for a unique opportunity says Minister of Forests Steve Thomson “These fire fighters are going to be paired with fire fighting personnel from B.C. while in service and we will work in unison with them This will allow for orientation, supervision and evaluation.” Thomson says the team was brought in through the Canadian Inter Agency Forest Fire Centres process “so most of the travel costs have been absorbed by other jurisdictions. “This is a great opportunity for B.C. to strengthen our ties with international partners and could lay some groundwork for future agreements on sharing personnel and resources during critical needs.” The team will be here for 2 weeks.
The long weekend offered no break to fire fighters in the southern part of B.C. Thomson says there were “too many human caused fires, including the one near Harrison (Lake) which is now estimated to be over 600 hectares in size.” There were 31 new fires over the long weekend, 13 of them human caused. “This continues to be a source of significant frustration to our wildfire service, to the Province and to our Ministry.” Thomson says people need to continue to be vigilant and to continue to obey the restrictions that are in place.
There continues to be a significant divide between north and south B.C. when it comes to fire danger ratings. Wildfire Service Chief Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek says the prolonged wet weather north of Quesnel has reduced the fire danger rating for most of the north, but the hot dry conditions remain in the south. He says anyone in the back country, especially those using ATV’s should be aware that a hot exhaust can spark a fire .
So far this fire season ( since April 1st ) there have been 1399 fires which have burned 282,000 hectares. The cost of fire fighting so far this season is now at $174 million dollars.
There are 140 fires burning across the province, 92 of them caused by lightning.