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Pandemic means no help from Australia in B.C. wildfire fight right now

Last Updated Jul 21, 2021 at 10:47 am PDT

(Courtesy BC Wildfire Service)

Australia's not sending any relief firefighters to B.C. anytime soon due to pandemic restrictions

Firefighters from Mexico expected to arrive in B.C. to help deal with wildfires across province

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – If you’re wondering why B.C. is having trouble accessing support from some countries to help fight wildfires, you can put some of the blame on the pandemic.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth admits COVID-19 protocols are challenging efforts to bring in teams from places that normally swap crews with Canada.

“I can tell you that we have been in touch from Australia. They have particular COVID issues themselves at the moment, and we are working with them. But there has not been, at this point, a commitment to have firefighters come here from Australia,” he said Tuesday, when a provincial state of emergency was declared.

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He says 100 firefighters arriving from Mexico on Saturday will be deployed across B.C.

“They will be going straight to the hot zones in five teams of 20,” Farnworth explained.

These firefighters will be tested for COVID-19 before they board flights to Canada, and again after they land in Abbotsford.

They will also sleep in camps separate from B.C. firefighters.

In early July, the Canadian Armed Forces were deployed to B.C. to provide airlift support to transport personnel, supplies, and equipment. Help has also been brought in from other provinces in recent weeks, including from Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick.