Soldiers arriving this weekend at Vernon Cadet Camp to help fight BC wildfires

Soldiers on their way

Soldiers from the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry will begin arriving in Vernon this weekend to help wildfires in the Southern Interior.

Lieut. Kevin Moffat with the Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group says 1st Battalion PPCLI members were departing Edmonton for Vernon on Friday.

They are stationed at the 3rd Canadian Division Support Base in Edmonton, but will be working out of Vernon for the next several weeks in support of the BC Wildfire Service.

"The Canadian Armed Forces is deploying land forces to support local and provincial authorities in response to the emergency wildfire situation," Moffat said in an email from on board a bus headed to the Okanagan.

The troops will be supporting wildfire operations until at least Aug. 30, at which time the situation will be reassessed.

The land task force will be comprised of headquarters staff, two companies (of approximately 90-130 personnel), and service support from the Canadian Army.

They will support the BC Wildfire Service in the following ways:

  • Suppression of hot spots on existing lines to ensure full extinguishment
  • Monitor fire lines for hold over fire and suppress as required
  • Work alongside and under the supervision of BC Wildfire Service personnel in a support capacity to build new fire lines on priority fires
  • Provide transport assistance where required to non-CAF personnel also deployed in support of the wildfire effort

As of Friday, there were 263 wildfires burning in British Columbia, with 96 of those in the Kamloops Fire Centre district, which encompasses the Okanagan.

About 250 soldiers are expected to arrive in Vernon over the next couple of days and will be staging out of the Vernon Army Cadet Training Camp.

With a provincial state of emergency declared and strong winds across the Interior in recent days, more fire help is also arriving in the form of 112 Quebec firefighters and 100 more from Mexico.

Meanwhile, airborne troops have been working out of Kamloops Airport for the past two weeks as part of Operation Lentus, in support of the wildfire fight across the region.

We'll have more on the military's involvement in Vernon once they arrive.

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