A Quebec forest fire protection organization, the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU), is sending 20 firefighters and three forest fire specialists to Australia to help combat the deadly ongoing bush fires that have ravaged the country.
The SOPFEU announced on Friday the firefighters and specialists will join the next Canadian resource deployment to Australia, which has been dealing with one of the worst wildfire seasons the country has ever seen.
According to the Australian Wildfire Fund organization, the fires have so far killed 27 people and 1 billion animals, and have burned more than 2,000 homes and 20 million acres of land.
For comparison, other recent wildfires like the 2018 California fires and the 2019 Amazon fires burned 2 million and 2.2 million acres of land, respectively.
The fires in Australia have also released 350 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the air.
Nearly 100 Canadian firefighters and experts have been sent to Australia to help battle the fires since they began, and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne has said that Canada is willing to do more to help.
A spokesperson for the minister has said that so far Australia’s only request is that more people be sent over to help.
“When wildfires spread through Canadian communities, Australia answered our call for help,” Champagne said in a written statement. “We are proud to do the same.”
The next Canadian deployment to Australia will depart from Vancouver on Jan. 16 and 19. Along with the 20 firefighters and three specialists, Quebec will send over two employees from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) to help coordinate the Canadians on the ground in Australia.
The SOPFEU said the new round of Canadians, an additional 60 people, will be sent over for a period of 31 days.
The organization added that all the firefighters and experts from Quebec that have signed up to join the efforts to battle the fires did so voluntarily. They said they put out the call and a large number of firefighters volunteered to be sent over.
— With files from The Canadian Press