B.C. wildfires: Australian firefighters coming to lend a hand

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ABOVE: Australian firefighters coming to B.C. to lend a hand battling wildfires. – Jul 19, 2017

A group of 48 Australian firefighters left Sydney for Canada on Wednesday to battle the wildfires in British Columbia. As many as 32,000 people are still unable to return to their homes.

The contingent – made up of incident management and specialist positions – were formally requested from Canadian authorities and could be required for up to 42 days. They were expected to arrive in British Columbia on Wednesday.

B.C. remains under a state of emergency as 155 wildfires continue to burn across the province. Fifteen of those fires are threatening communities.

READ MORE: Special air quality statement issued for Calgary Wednesday amid smoky air from BC fires 

“Canada has helped Australia before in firefighting and the firefighting community around the world is quite a tight knit one,” New South Wales Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said.

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“So obviously if we can help in their times of need we would like to do so and obviously we’re hoping that our firefighters will make a difference.”

An evacuation order covering 58 properties near Lake Country for the Okanagan Centre fire was lifted Wednesday morning.

Officials say that wildfire, which at its height forced the evacuation of 300 properties and destroyed eight homes, is now 100 per cent contained.

On Tuesday, an evacuation order was lifted for 47 properties near Princeton and Summerland.

Crews are making progress on building fire guards in the area of the Princeton fire and now the blaze is 60 per cent contained. The evacuation order for 300 other properties in the region remains in effect.

-With files from Amy Judd

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