In this Saturday, Dec. 21 ,2019, photo, NSW Rural Fire Service crews fight the Gospers Mountain Fire as it impacts a structure at Bilpin. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP Images via AP)

Sixty-nine Canadians giving up holidays to help with Australian wildfires

Record high temperatures, strong southerly winds are fanning more than 100 fires in New South Wales

Sixty-nine Canadians are giving up their holidays at home to join the battle for the first time against the deadly wildfires devastating vast tracts of several Australian states.

The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre says a contingent of 21 highly trained staff from a variety of agencies left Canada on Dec. 3, for a 38 day deployment in New South Wales after the centre received an official request for assistance.

On Dec. 19 a second group of 30 Canadians was sent in for a 38 day deployment in the fire zone, anda further 18 are leaving on Dec. 30 for about a month.

Kim Connors, the executive director of the Winnipeg based CIFFC, says that Canada has called on Australian firefighters four times since 2015, and the “agreements are reciprocal in nature so it was the first time that Australia has needed help from Canada.”

“Our Canadian firefighters and their families have volunteered their time to be away for the holidays, which is different for the northern hemisphere to be dealing with wildland fires over Christmas and New Year’s so we’re very proud of them for doing that,” he said in an interview.

The CIFFC says crews from Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Yukon, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. are assisting with a variety of tasks including roles in command, aviation, planning, logistics and operations.

“So they’re not on the front line, they’re in the overall management of the fires,” said Connors.

“They’ve been in a period of drought for quite a long period and it’s not a very good situation down there and obviously their summer is just started as our winter starts.”

Record high temperatures and strong southerly winds are fanning more than 100 fires in New South Wales alone.

Two volunteer firefighters have been killed and dozens of homes have been lost since Thursday in the massive fires, including the Gospers Mountain blaze, which covered more than 460,000 hectares.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kootenay Robuster rally for highway clean-up

Social distancing measures were taken during the weekend sweep of Christina Lake

Columbia River Treaty continues during COVID

Message from Kathy Eichenberger

Kidney Walk goes virtual on Sunday

To register visit kidneywalk.ca

Petition to support employment of Canada’s autistic adults

Letter to the Editor from Cameron A. Straughan

More than 900 masks made through Rossland’s #Masks4all campaign

The campaign was launched in late April to get more residents to wear masks during COVID-19 crisis

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Kelowna Mountie on desk duty following ‘aggressive’ arrest

The officer involved in an arrest that took place on May 30 in Kelowna has been placed on administrative duties

Protests shift to memorializing George Floyd amid push for change

‘There is something better on the other side of this,’ says Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom

Columbia Basin Trust expands programming to support businesses

The revised programs will help local businesses to reopen and modify operations

Limit gun capacity to five bullets, victims group urges Trudeau government

Current limits are generally five bullets for hunting rifles and shotguns and 10 for handguns.

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

Most Read