B.C. Liberals call on province to seek federal assistance in fire fight

Wildfire burning northwest of Quesnel. Wildfire Management Branch

The B.C. Liberals have penned a letter to the provincial government asking for them to request support from the federal government in battling the ongoing wildfires in the province. In a letter sent Saturday, six Liberal MLAs asked the province to provide more information about the government’s plan to “ensure the safety of our communities.”

“We would like to know the government’s strategy for acquisition and deployment of resources to help fight the fires on the front lines,” reads the letter. “As we know, the federal government and military are able to not only assist with front-line firefighting but also to provide essential emergency response services such as evacuation support.”

READ MORE: B.C. wildfire update Monday: More fires now burning than during record 2017 season

The letter was signed by MLAs Donna Barnett, Shirley Bond, John Rustad, Coralee Oakes, Dan Davies and party leader Andrew Wilkinson. Other than Wilkinson, the politicians represent areas in the province where there are currently fires burning.

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Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth responded to the letter on Sunday. In the government’s official response, Farnworth noted that he had spoken to Bond and Rustad about the concerns raised in the letter.

READ MORE: Nanaimo regional district declares state of emergency amid 131-hectare wildfire

According to the government response, 3,460 wildfire personnel are working now to battle the 586 wildfires currently burning and they are the experts in determining what additional resources are needed.

“This work is dangerous and complex, and we are following the advice of these experts to ensure they have the resources and support required,” wrote Farnworth.

READ MORE: B.C. Wildfire Sunday: Lightning strikes lead to more than 140 new fires across B.C.

Emergency Management BC (EMBC) has prepared a draft order declaring a provincial state of emergency, but staff have not yet recommended that Farnworth sign it. That order would provide additional resources to the province from the federal government. B.C. declared a provincial state of emergency last summer because of wildfires.

“Senior staff in Wildfire and EMBC have been in close contact with their federal counterparts for the past several days, and my deputy minister spoke to her federal counterpart late last evening” reads the letter. “Together they have identified which personnel and aircraft resources the federal government could supply if Wildfire and EMBC staff recommend that I make such a request.”

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Letter to Minister Farnworth_Minister Donaldson_Wildfires_Aug 2018 by Richard Zussman on Scribd

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