Photo: BC Wildfire Service
More than 200 British Columbian firefighters were running across the U.S. border Friday morning to fight several massive wildfires devastating the American West.
More than 800 Wildfire service personnel showed interest in helping their American counterparts, and on Friday, 207 people traveled in their vehicles and began a long drive to Oregon.
On Thursday, firefighters all met in Chilliwack, and a convoy of trucks came onto the road at 6:30 a.m. Friday, Redmond, Ore.
There are 28 active fires in Oregon, and as conditions change by the hour, firefighters do not know what fires they are sending out. They will have no shortage of work during their approximately two-week expansion, which has so far burned 388,000 hectares in the state and destroyed thousands of homes.
“Nearly half of the entire organization says they’re ready to go to the U.S., so I would say it’s a very good representation that they are ready to be able to help this crew internationally as well,” Forest Tower told the BC Wildfire Service.
On Thursday, Premier John Horgan said he was Firefighters “very proud” Goes south.
BC firefighters assist U.S. personnel along with other firefighters across Canada. Prior to this current expansion, 60 firefighters from Quebec were assisting American wildfire efforts in California.
This is the first time in two years that BC Firefighter Ground crews have gone to the aid of Americans as BC air tankers cross the border to put out American fires.
With the border closure for recreational travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s aid came with some additional challenges.
“They all work inside their own BC bubble, so they don’t work with American staff, inter-mixing … they put everyone apart when they’ve there,” Tower said. “There are definitely some additional issues with this expansion.”
In addition to the additional costs resulting from COVID-19, the cost of BC firefighting efforts will be borne by the United States.
Returning personnel are subject to detention for 14 days and upon their return home, its costs will also be covered by the United States.