In this Saturday, Dec. 21 ,2019, photo, NSW Rural Fire Service crews fight the Gospers Mountain Fire as it impacts a structure at Bilpin. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP Images via AP)

Sixty-nine Canadians giving up holidays to help with Australian wildfires

Record high temperatures, strong southerly winds are fanning more than 100 fires in New South Wales

Sixty-nine Canadians are giving up their holidays at home to join the battle for the first time against the deadly wildfires devastating vast tracts of several Australian states.

The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre says a contingent of 21 highly trained staff from a variety of agencies left Canada on Dec. 3, for a 38 day deployment in New South Wales after the centre received an official request for assistance.

On Dec. 19 a second group of 30 Canadians was sent in for a 38 day deployment in the fire zone, anda further 18 are leaving on Dec. 30 for about a month.

Kim Connors, the executive director of the Winnipeg based CIFFC, says that Canada has called on Australian firefighters four times since 2015, and the “agreements are reciprocal in nature so it was the first time that Australia has needed help from Canada.”

“Our Canadian firefighters and their families have volunteered their time to be away for the holidays, which is different for the northern hemisphere to be dealing with wildland fires over Christmas and New Year’s so we’re very proud of them for doing that,” he said in an interview.

The CIFFC says crews from Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Yukon, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. are assisting with a variety of tasks including roles in command, aviation, planning, logistics and operations.

“So they’re not on the front line, they’re in the overall management of the fires,” said Connors.

“They’ve been in a period of drought for quite a long period and it’s not a very good situation down there and obviously their summer is just started as our winter starts.”

Record high temperatures and strong southerly winds are fanning more than 100 fires in New South Wales alone.

Two volunteer firefighters have been killed and dozens of homes have been lost since Thursday in the massive fires, including the Gospers Mountain blaze, which covered more than 460,000 hectares.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Planting your very own victory garden

The Free Press publisher and gardening expert, Madi Bragg, gives tips for planting

IDES and Salvation Army join forces to create meal program for families in need

Every Tuesday, IDES delivers baskets full of produce and household products to local residents

Angel Flight takes to the skies once more

Angel Flight East Kootenay is once again offering free flights to Kelowna for medical appointments

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

The East Kootenay Foundation for Health gives back to healthcare workers and facilities

The EKFH partnered with local organizations to assist health care facilities thorughout the pandemic

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Most Read