Military winding down deployment as B.C. wildfire state of emergency ends
With the B.C. wildfire state of emergency now ended, the Canadian Armed Forces is winding down its deployment to the province.
More than 200 military personnel, along with heavy-lift aircraft, were deployed to B.C. to assist in the firefighting efforts, mostly in a support and mop-up capacity.
On Friday, the armed forces said its response in B.C. would be “scaled down” and that “most deployed CAF members are starting to head home now.”
“We do still have some Canadian Armed Forces personnel with us, but that is lower than it was at our peak,” said fire information officer Ryan Turcot on Saturday.
“Right now, we have 80 personnel doing firefighting as well as 41 in more of a support capacity.”
Turcot said the remaining forces were setting up in Princeton on Saturday, with the aim to work on fires in the Placer Mountain complex.
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“Right now, we’re expecting that within the next seven to 10 days they’ll be able to demobilize with the provision, however, that if an extension does become required that an extension is possible,” Turcot said.
B.C. requested federal help to fight its rapidly escalating wildfires on Aug. 13.
They supplemented out-of-province wildfire personnel from across Canada along with international crews from Mexico, New Zealand and Australia. As of Saturday, more than 700 of those out-of-province personnel remain in B.C.
During last year’s record B.C. wildfire season, the the federal government deployed about 300 personnel to the province to help out.
Meanwhile Turcot said that many seasonal BC Wildfire service staff are also signing off for the year.
“Our estimation was that there would be about a 30 to 35 per cent drop in our own seasonal staff, just from many of them returning back to school in the fall so, to offset this anticipated decrease in crew numbers we have continued to receive assistance from forest industry, from out of province and from internationally, ” he said.
As of Saturday there were still 460 wildfires burning across B.C., having charred a record 1.339 million hectares since the beginning of the season.
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