More than 200 B.C. firefighters heading to U.S. to battle wildfires

Firefighters heading to U.S.

More than 200 firefighters and related personnel from British Columbia are heading to the U.S. to help battle extreme wildfires in Oregon.

"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," says 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."

The firefighters are heading to Redmond, Ore. where they will be deployed as needed. An additional 200 personnel may be deployed in the coming days or weeks.

"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," says Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural development.

"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."

And due to the challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in both B.C. and the U.S., all staff will be taking extraordinary precautions to ensure the health of everyone involved in the deployment, while in the U.S. and on their return to Canada. 

The BC Wildfire Service personnel will stay within their own bubble while conducting their firefighting efforts, separately from American firefighters. 

Since the start of the pandemic, BC Wildfire Service has remained vigilant in protecting its staff from possible COVID-19 exposure. This includes social distancing, and enhanced safety and sanitization. 

The American request for help came through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre which is responsible for mutual sharing of firefighting between B.C. and other jurisdictions.

The jurisdiction that requested the firefighting resources will cover all associated costs. This includes the BC Wildfire Service staff quarantine once they return to Canada. 

Ample personnel and resources will remain in B.C. to respond to any fire activity in consideration with the province's current wildfire and forecasted wildfire situation. 

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