Canada to send more firefighters to help battle Australian wildfires
TORONTO -- Canada will send 18 more firefighters to Australia to help battle wildfires currently ravaging the country.
“They’re working in operations, aviation, planning, logistics and command,” Kim Connors, executive director of Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC), told CTV News Channel on Saturday from Blackville, N.B. “Canada’s expertise in command and control of wildland fires is second to none around the world.”
There are currently 52 Canadian firefighters in New South Wales, expected to stay into the new year. The first round went on Dec. 3 while the second deployment travelled to Australia on Dec. 19.
The additional 18 will go to Queensland on Dec. 30.
This is the first time that Canadian firefighters have helped contain fires in Australia, according to Connors.
“It’s quite common for the U.S. and Canada to share these resources, but this is the first time we’ve gone beyond the U.S.,” he said.
Australian firefighters have travelled to Canada four times since 2015 to help battle fires in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Crews travelled to Australia from Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Yukon, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, according to CIFFC.
One person has died in the wildfire in South Australia, the Associated Press reported on Saturday. Two firefighters, identified as Geoffrey Keaton, 32, and Andrew O'Dwyer, 36, died Thursday battling fires southwest of Sydney.
Around 2,000 firefighters are battling 100 wildfires in New South Wales, which is in a seven-day state of emergency.
"Given we have a landscape with so much active fire burning, you have a recipe for very serious concern and a very dangerous day,” Shane Fitzsimmons, New South Wales Rural Fire Services Commissioner, told reporters.
On Dec. 18, Australia recorded its hottest day on record with an average temperature of 40.9 degrees Celsius.