The BC Wildfire Service is sending hundreds of firefighters and personnel south to help battle extreme wildfires currently burning in Oregon.
Smoke from wildfires in the U.S. recently blanketed large portions of the province, plunging air quality in places like Vancouver and Victoria into some of the worst ratings in the world.
“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 Premier John Horgan.
“That is just extraordinary, and it speaks volumes about our compassion and our commitment to helping each other.”
Firefighters are being deployed to Redmond, Ore. and will be deployed as needed to assist in the situation.
In an update on Wednesday, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) said that more than 6,000 personnel from across the U.S. are currently fighting fires in the state.
Eight people have died in the recent wildfires, with an additional 12 still missing.
The OEM estimated that the fires had burned one million acres of land, destroying 1,616 residences and 1,461 other structures.
4,500 people were displaced, 3,927 of whom were sheltered and 573 of whom were applying for assistance.
Due to ongoing concerns with COVID-19, B.C. firefighters and staff will remain within their own “bubble” and will conduct their fighting operations separately from American firefighters.
Efforts are being coordinated by the U.S. Forest Service and other relevant authorities.
The American request for assistance was handled by the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre.
Costs for the deployment, including quarantine time for returning firefighters and staff, will be covered by the jurisdiction that requested aid.
The Ministry of Forests says that the province’s wildfire season has been comparatively mild and sufficient personnel remain in B.C. to respond to local fire activity.