Armed Forces Increasing Assistance to BC Firefighters
Prince George, B.C. – Help is on the way for crews fighting wildfires in B.C. following the provincial government’s request to Ottawa for additional Canadian Armed Forces support through September.
The federal government has committed up to 300 BC Wildfire Service-trained CAF members who will be assisting with mop-up and monitoring of wildfires. They will also be providing temporary lodgings for BC firefighters. The Wildfire Service will provide the supervision, training and equipment needed to keep the personnel safe.
Lieutenant-Colonel Derek Prohar, commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry based in Edmonton, says over the next 48 hours forces members will begin fire line operations including patrols, surveillance, digging fire control and assisting mop-up operations. They will be mainly concentrated in the area of Riske Creek, south of Williams Lake but will also conduct fire line operations near towns and critical infrastructure.
He says some of the additional Forces members will come from Edmonton but a majority will come from reserve units in B.C. as well as Canadian Rangers based in this province. He also applauded British Columbians for showing an incredible resilience under extremely trying conditions.
The Executive Director of operations with Emergency Management BC, Chris Duffy, there remains a very dynamic fire situation and significant hazard in areas around the province. “Emergency Management BC is maintaining our elevated activation posture with our key ministry partners in Victoria and our key regional operations centres activated in Prince George, Kamloops and Nelson.”
“Our other regional centres are prepared to activate as required. Our continuing priorities are public safety, first responder safety and protection of communities and critical infrastructure.”
He says currently there are 38 Evacuation Orders and 41 Alerts in the province. “The estimated number of people on Evacuation Order 6,402 and estimated number on Alert, just approaching 27,000.”
Duffy also thanked the Canadian Armed Forces for their support of the firefighting effort, saying they have played a key role “assisting with ground evacuation, delivering essential aid and helping the RCMP maintain road check points across the province.”
It is expected the Canadian Armed Forces will have deployed 650 members to B.C. by the time this stunning wildfire season comes to an end.