Today, the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, have approved a formal Request for Federal Assistance from the Province of British Columbia to support their efforts to combat wildfires and augment federal resources already on the ground.
British Columbia is currently experiencing a wildfire season well above the seasonal average and has deployed all available provincial and local resources to respond to fires across the province, particularly in the southern and central parts of the province.
In response to this request for assistance, the Canadian Armed Forces will be sending up to an additional 350 personnel to support extinguishing and monitoring of hot spots on contained fires.
Since early July, Canadian Armed Forces have been providing airlift support to transport personnel, supplies, and equipment into and out of areas affected by wildfires throughout the province, and to support evacuations in emergencies when required.
The Government Operations Centre is working to coordinate the federal response to the wildfire situation in British Columbia and across the country. Officials are working closely with federal and provincial partners to coordinate this assistance.
“British Columbians can rest assured that there are strong federal and provincial mechanisms in place to ensure that we work together to protect Canadians from wildfires and other natural disasters. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to thank responding partners at all levels of government, particularly the firefighting personnel on the ground and in the air, for their commitment to the safety of all Canadians.”
– The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
“The members of the Canadian Armed Forces have been working with B.C. Wildfire Service to help them fight forest fires, and now that British Columbia needs more help we will be there. We are sending up to 350 Canadian Armed Forces members to help the B.C. Wildfire Service staff with their critical efforts.”
– The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence
“The Province is deploying all available resources to respond to wildfires across the B.C. interior, and we welcome the additional support from the federal government. Air support from Canadian Forces has already proved invaluable in moving crews and equipment throughout the province and aiding in precautionary evacuations.”
– Mike Farnworth, BC Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General
So far this season, 4,447 wildfires have burned over 2 million hectares of land across Canada, well-above the 10-year average of approximately 3, 452 fires burning approximately 1.5 million hectares.
Overall fire danger will continue to develop until mid-August.
The Canadian Armed Forces has already deployed two CH-146 Griffon helicopters and two CH-147 Chinook helicopters to transport personnel and equipment into and out of areas affected by fires, and to provide emergency airlift for evacuation purposes.
Canadian Armed Forces personnel will now provide assistance with the following tasks
- Assisting B.C. Wildfire Service (BCWS) personnel with holding existing fire lines
- Suppressing hot spots to ensure fires are fully extinguished
- Working with BCWS fire crews to build new fire lines on priority fires