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BC Wildfire Service members are leaving the fight so they can hit the books

B.C. wildfire crews walk into a singed landscape in this photo from Twitter.
B.C. wildfire crews walk into a singed landscape in this photo from Twitter. BC Wildfire Service/Twitter

Many who spent the summer helping to put out the flames in B.C.’s worst wildfire season hung up their boots for the last time on Friday, as they prepare to go back to school.

Chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said that up to 40 per cent of firefighters and dispatchers are seasonal employees who are set to return to their post-secondary studies.

Coverage of the B.C. wildfires on Globalnews.ca:

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The service knew this day would come, however, and it planned ahead.

“We’ve brought in a lot of assistance from the forest industry in B.C., a lot of contracted firefighting crews from forestry companies, a lot of out-of-province assistance as well,” he said.

READ MORE: Cranbrook-area wildfire reaches 250 hectares, evacuation order in place

“We’ve had crews in from nearly every province and territory in Canada, and internationally as well. Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, the United States.”

While it may sting to have firefighters leave the front lines, they’re not the only ones hitting the books.

“One of the most crucial ones is our dispatchers,” Skrepnek said. “They work out of our six regional coordination centres as well as our air tanker dispatch centre here in Kamloops. Almost all of them are seasonal workers as well.

READ MORE: Massive Elephant Hill wildfire jumps containment lines

“We’ve also been moving resources around quite a bit between our centres, from some of our slower areas for instance up in northern B.C. down to the south.”

There are currently more than 160 fires burning across the province.

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