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Metro Vancouver firefighters gear up to help as interior wildfires rage

WATCH: More than 171 wildfires burning across B.C.

With wildfire crews in B.C.’s interior pushed to the limit, Metro Vancouver firefighters are gearing up to help.

Vancouver Fire Chief Darrell Reid has spoken with Emergency Management BC, and the department has been asked to be on standby, said Assistant Chief Peter Bridge.

READ MORE: B.C. wildfire status liveblog: province-wide state of emergency declared

WATCH: BC wildfires close highways around the province

BC wildfires close highways around the province
BC wildfires close highways around the province

The department is now taking stock of what resources it can make available if needed.

“We’re compiling a list of members willing to be deployed, we’re inventorying equipment and mechanics, and all personnel that has background in wildland firefighting,” Bridge said.

READ MORE: Ashcroft wildfire grows from 700 to 4,000 hectares in about five hours

Bridge said it’s early in the process, and that the department can’t provide firm numbers in terms of what might be offered as assistance.

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“But we are looking into it, and are very serious about going out to assist,” he said.

WATCH: Wildfires rage across B.C. interior

Senior Regional Manager with Emergency Management BC Ian Cunnings said some B.C. municipal fire departments have already begun to contribute to the effort by sending Structural Protection Units (SPUs) to the fire zones.

Those teams operate what Cunnings describes as industrial type sprinklers to try and keep buildings safe from encroaching fires.

“There are some Lower Mainland fire departments and other fire departments from around B.C. that have brought their structural protection units into parts of the Okanagan and the Cariboo,” he said.

READ MORE: Smokey skies, air quality advisory in effect for parts of B.C. due to wildfires

Coquitlam Fire and Rescue is one of the departments that contributed an SPU, and has deployed six members to the area around 100 Mile House where the Gustafsen wildfire is currently burning about 1,500 hectares.

WATCH: Gustafsen wildfire continues to burn near 100 Mile House

Gustafsen wildfire continues to burn near 100 Mile House
Gustafsen wildfire continues to burn near 100 Mile House

Assistant Fire Chief Gary Mulligan said Lower Mainland crews regularly get called from the Ministry of Forests to help in wildfire season.

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“In the northern communities they can help each other, which they normally do. But when conditions get this bad, you can’t take your single resource from a small town and run 1,500 miles away and leave your own town unprotected. So that’s when they start reaching out to the Lower Mainland. We have extra resources and manpower,” he said.

Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes, and B.C. is currently under a state of emergency due to the wildfire situation.

READ MORE: Facebook group set up to help B.C. wildfire evacuees with livestock

There are currently more than 171 fires burning across the province, 143 of which started Friday night.

On a conference call Saturday, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources John Rustad said the province has requested out-of-province assistance in terms of fire crews and aircraft, and is expecting about 260 firefighters by early next week.

Rustad said B.C. has also been in contact with the federal government in the event additional resources, including the Canadian military, are required and has been told “whatever we need, they are ready.”