WATCH ABOVE: A group of firefighters arrived in Edmonton from New Zealand Tuesday night. As Jessica Kent explains, they’re among hundreds from around the world helping battle wildfires in Alberta.
EDMONTON — With more than 90 wildfires burning in Alberta, fire crews have come from around the world to help local crews in the battle.
“We’ve had quite a few different crews that have been arriving as of late,” said Jamie Parker, a rappel member with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “We’ve had crews from the United States, California in particular, we’ve had crews from Australia and New Zealand and we’ve had multiple crews from across Canada.”
On Tuesday night, a team of 17 firefighters arrived in Edmonton from New Zealand. John Sutton, the task force leader for the New Zealand contingent, said fighting wildfires in Alberta isn’t much different than back home, apart from the sheer size of the blazes.
“It’s much bigger than what we’re used to,” he said. “If we had fires like you do here, the number of fires and the size of them, I think there wouldn’t be much of New Zealand left.”
“All the people in the team that’s come are experienced in fighting fires in large timber, very similar fire environment to what you have here, it’s just on a lot bigger scale in Canada.”
Alberta is currently experiencing one of the busiest wildfire seasons in recent history. About 1,200 fires have burned across the province this year, compared to 800 at this time last year.
As of Tuesday, there were 92 fires burning in Alberta, 12 of which were listed as out of control.
The good news is, the number of fires has significantly dropped over the past couple of weeks. Geoffrey Driscoll, a wildfire information officer with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, says it’s due in part to the crews coming in from around the world to lend a hand.
“They’re doing an amazing job being able to really put out these fires as quickly as possible and contain the ones they’re not able to put out,” Driscoll said Tuesday night.
Driscoll says sharing firefighters throughout the world is fairly routine practice.
“If the next year our partners need us, we’ll be glad to send our firefighters that way,” he added.
This time last week 62 firefighters from Jalisco, Mexico arrived in Edmonton to assist with wildfires in northern Alberta. Nearly 300 firefighters have been brought in from out of Alberta to assist the 1,100 local firefighters.
“We’ve had emergency crews from these provinces as well and it’s been really nice to see and it’s helped us out a ton out here,” said Parker.
For more information on the current wildfire status in Alberta, head to the government’s website.
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