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B.C. sending firefighters south of border to help battle massive Oregon wildfires

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With wildfires raging south of the border, B.C. is sending firefighters to help their American counterparts.

On Thursday, the province announced that more than 200 B.C. firefighters and related personnel will soon be battling extreme fire activity in Oregon.

The firefighters will be deployed to Redmond, Ore., with the province noting that an additional 200 personnel could be sent south in the near future.

Read more: Alberta firefighters heading to Oregon to help battle wildfires

“Over 800 BC Wildfire Service personnel volunteered to go into someone else’s community and to someone else’s fire to do what they can to make sure people are safe,” said B.C. Premier John Horgan.

“That is just extraordinary, and it speaks volumes about our compassion and our commitment to helping each other. I’m very proud of those individuals.”

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Several fires are burning in the state, including three incredibly massive incidents southeast of Portland.

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The Riverside fire is listed at 136,070 acres (55,065 hectares) and has a perimeter of 272 miles (437 kilometres).

It is listed as being six per cent contained, and is threatening 24,705 residences, along with having destroyed 33 residences. Currently, 568 personnel are battling the fire.

The northwest edge of the fire is around 16 miles southeast of Portland’s southeast edge.

Located just below that fire is the Beachie Creek blaze, which is listed at 191,660 acres (77,562 ha). It also has a perimeter of 338 miles (543 km).

It is 20 per cent contained and is threatening 10,085 residences. It has also destroyed 470 residences and has damaged another 46. Currently, 571 personnel are fighting the fire.

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The Beachie Creek fire has merged with the Lionshead blaze to the west.

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The Lionshead fire is listed at 192,709 hectares (77,986 ha) and has a perimeter of 376 miles (605 km).

It is 10 per cent contained and has destroyed 263 residences and damaged another 57. One thousand and 15 firefighters are on scene.

And about 45 miles south of those two merged fires is the Holiday Farm fire just east of Eugene. That fire is listed at 170,717 acres (69,086 ha) and has a perimeter of 273 miles (439 km).

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“Here in British Columbia, we’ve been fortunate to have experienced a moderate wildfire season, but our neighbours to the south have not been so lucky,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests and Lands.

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“B.C. firefighters who are willing to be deployed out of the country during this challenging time deserve a lot of credit for their professionalism.”

The province says B.C.’s firefighters will stay in their own ‘bubble’ while in the U.S., and will conduct their operations separately from American firefighters.

Read more: ‘Nothing left in the bucket’: Resources scarce as crews battle California wildfires

“Given the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in the province and in the U.S., the B.C. firefighters and staff will be taking extraordinary precautions to safeguard the health of everyone participating in this deployment, both during their time in the U.S. and on their return to Canada,” said BC Wildfire Service.

The province noted that all associated costs will be covered by the jurisdiction requesting help, including quarantine time upon their return to Canada.

BC Wildfire said enough personnel will remain in the province to respond to wildfires if needed.

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