OHS Canada Magazine

Out-of-province fire crews, Armed Forces heading to B.C. to help with wildfires


Firefighting teams from Quebec and New Brunswick are arriving in British Columbia to assist with devastating wildfires.

The BC Wildfire Service says the nearly 100 out-of-province members must pass COVID-19 safety checks before being sent into the field.

Public Safety Canada also says it has committed the Armed Forces for airlift support to carry crews, supplies and equipment in and out of fire zones and to assist with emergency evacuations if needed.

The wildfire service says 196 active wildfires are currently burning in B.C., with at least 40 sparked over the weekend.

Evacuation orders are in place for five of those wildfires, including one near Lytton, where a fire destroyed much of the village last week.

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The fire covers 76 square kilometres but didn’t grow significantly on Sunday.

Separate fires north of Kamloops and east of 100 Mile House have also forced hundreds of people from their homes and prompted evacuation alerts for hundreds more. The largest one has scorched 363 square kilometres and has not yet been contained.

North of Lillooet, the wildfire service says crews have completed some guards along the edge of a 260-square-kilometre blaze but it remains out of control and has been aggravated by recent winds.

Separate crews were planning a controlled burn using helicopters and hand ignition Monday near a smaller fire at Deka Lake to remove fuel at the fire’s edge.

A non-profit agency that co-ordinates interprovincial aid and resources warns more difficult days lie ahead in B.C.

“Anticipating multiple fire starts each day over the next (three) days,” says the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre in its report issued Sunday.

Environment Canada is maintaining heat warnings for several B.C. regions, including areas where many of the most threatening wildfires continue to burn.

Daytime highs of 35 C and nighttime lows around 20 C increase the risk of wildfires due to drought conditions, says the weather office.

Lightning is in Monday’s forecast for many of the at-risk regions, with a chance of showers.

The weather agency predicts the heat wave that began last month will continue at least through Monday night.