Military mobilized to help in B.C. wildfire fight

The federal government has mobilized the Canadian Armed Forces to help B.C. fight hundreds of wildfires.

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair says federal assistance, including military resources, are on the way.

“Firefighters and emergency management personnel in British Columbia are working tirelessly to manage the wildfires,” Blair said in a tweet Friday afternoon.

“To aid their efforts, we have now approved a Request for Federal Assistance and we’re mobilizing resources from across federal departments and @CanadianForces.”

This comes after B.C. Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma announced Thursday that she was in talks with her federal counterpart to bring more equipment and people into the province.

Ma said at the time B.C. had requested up to an additional 1,000 firefighting personnel to help with its efforts.

“The BC Wildfire Service has also contracted additional air support capacity in recent days. We are continuously assessing the situation across the province closely and we will not hesitate to take action to keep people and communities safe,” the minister added.

Blair said at the time that federal help could include military assistance for airlift evacuations from remote locations, as well as troops trained as firefighters who can “mop up” to keep blazes from reigniting.

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Word of federal support comes as B.C. also awaits the arrival of resources outside of Canada. An incident management team from Australia is expected to arrive in the province on July 15 to support the approximately 160 international personnel from Mexico and the United States who are already working alongside the BC Wildfire Service.

In an update Thursday night, the BC Wildfire Service said lightning continues to be a concern, amid hot and dry conditions across the province.

It noted 399 new wildfires were reported in the last week. The service says the number of threatening or potentially damaging fires has jumped to 17.

On Tuesday, Premier David Eby said B.C. and Canada were facing the worst wildfire season in 100 years.

“We’re probably nearing $200 million fighting wildfires this year … just to give you a scale of the work we’re doing here,” Eby explained. “It’s a challenging time certainly for us in British Columbia … we do expect long days ahead.”

-With files from The Canadian Press

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