Soldiers from Edmonton to aid in B.C. wildfire fight


Canada’s armed forces are sending 350 soldiers from Edmonton to the BC interior to fight wildfires.

Canada’s armed forces said Thursday that Alberta-based troops will begin arriving in the Okanagan area this week to provide direct assistance to BC Wildfire Services operations.

The troops, part of the immediate response unit, will operate in the Vernon area, about 440 kilometers northeast of Vancouver, the armed forces said in a statement to the news.

They will work with firefighters, help monitor the line of fire, participate in “mop-up” procedures and remove burning and hazardous material at the edge of the fire.

The soldiers are expected to remain in BC until at least August 30.

The forces said additional military aid could be sent to the province if needed.

The B.C. government filed an official request for federal aid on July 19.

Ottawa earlier this week announced its plans to send troops to BC.

Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said in a social media post that the government has approved the request for help.

BC declared a state of emergency on July 20. The wildfires have forced hundreds of people from their homes and put thousands on evacuation alert.

As of Wednesday, about 300 wildfires were burning across the province, with more than 100 wildfires concentrated in the interior.

There has been pressure on the resources on the land. The BC Wildfire Service has said it is being forced to focus on wildfires that threaten life and safety because of the stress.

Last Thursday, the service warned that it was “unable to do all-new ignitions” with existing manpower and equipment.

A handful of forests are burning in the forests around Vernon. The regional district of North Okanagan has declared a state of emergency.

The Brenda Creek wildfire that began last Wednesday grew rapidly over the weekend and has now burned nearly 500 hectares, triggering a series of evacuation alerts and orders. More than 60 properties have been evacuated due to forest fires on the east side of Mabel Lake.

Fighting fires in the area has been difficult for emergency workers battling strong winds that have pushed the fire into the very dry forests.

The weather in the interior has been challenging for firefighters. There was no rain in the southern part of the state over the weekend and some areas have not received rain for nearly five weeks.

Conditions are likely to remain hot, dry and windy during the week.



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