Canadian Forces Chinook helicopter delivers personnel and equipment to 2017 B.C. wildfire effort. (Canadian Forces)

Ottawa agrees to send B.C. help in wildfire battle

Canadian Forces to join foreign crews as B.C. reaches 600 fires

Calling it an “urgent situation,” B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth ‘s call for federal assistance with wildfire control was greeted with approval.

The request sent Monday for 200 personnel who can work independently in the back country, plus aircraft for equipment delivery and possible emergency evacuation flights, was soon answered by federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

Canadian Army and Air Force units were called in last summer and the call has gone out again, with evacuation orders affecting more than 3,000 people and another 43 alerts in place around the province.

Due to the increase in the number of wildfires affecting communities and the extreme wildfire behaviour we’re seeing, we’re asking for federal assistance for additional resources that may be needed to protect the public, property and infrastructure,” Farnworth said.

Farnworth said the request is for “200 self-contained personnel who are able to stay out in the bush for quite some time, whose job it would be to mop up and control the fire zones on those fires that have been contained.

“That will help free up additional resources here in B.C.,” Farnworth said. “We’ve also asked for additional heavy lifting aircraft to be able to move heavy equipment to where it’s needed, as well as the potential of emergency aircraft to assist in evacuations from remote communities.”

B.C. has 3,400 wildfire personnel working on 600 fires across the province, including contractors, municipal firefighters, forest industry personnel and out-of-province crews from across Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.

Farnworth said while the total area affected is about one quarter what B.C. faced last year, the number of fires is above the 10-year average. “Last year there were fewer fires, but they were vastly larger than what we’re seeing today,” he said.

B.C. has spent about $207 million so far on the fire season, substantially less than last year’s record season.

“One of the big impacts in terms of costs last year that we have not faced to date this year has been the evacuation and housing of people and all of the resources that went into ensuring that their needs are met,” Farnworth said.

Just Posted

Watercolours by late Chilliwack artist to be unveiled at Yarrow Library

The public is invited to a special unveiling of three of Heinz Klassen’s watercolour paintings

Yarrow Library one of the stops on Cubetto’s grand tour

FVRL’s friendly wooden robot, Cubetto, travels throughout Fraser Valley to teach programming basics

No home for Agassiz Community Garden on school district land

The garden is still homeless after SD78 said no to the society using the McCaffrey School property

Chilliwack PEO: ‘We who are sisters’

International oganization celebrating 150 years of service

Chilliwack students take the lead as mental health advocates

About 100 Chilliwack youth prepped to make a difference during Mental Health Week

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Seattle’s 4-20 ‘protestival’ enjoys tolerance, some support – and B.C. could do the same

Seattle’s Hempfest a large-scale occasions with vendors, prominent musical acts and thousands of attendees

Most Read