Canadian Forces Chinook helicopter delivers personnel and equipment to 2017 B.C. wildfire effort. (Canadian Forces)

Canadian Forces Chinook helicopter delivers personnel and equipment to 2017 B.C. wildfire effort. (Canadian Forces)

Ottawa agrees to send B.C. help in wildfire battle

Canadian Forces to join foreign crews as B.C. reaches 600 fires

Calling it an “urgent situation,” B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth ‘s call for federal assistance with wildfire control was greeted with approval.

The request sent Monday for 200 personnel who can work independently in the back country, plus aircraft for equipment delivery and possible emergency evacuation flights, was soon answered by federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

Canadian Army and Air Force units were called in last summer and the call has gone out again, with evacuation orders affecting more than 3,000 people and another 43 alerts in place around the province.

Due to the increase in the number of wildfires affecting communities and the extreme wildfire behaviour we’re seeing, we’re asking for federal assistance for additional resources that may be needed to protect the public, property and infrastructure,” Farnworth said.

Farnworth said the request is for “200 self-contained personnel who are able to stay out in the bush for quite some time, whose job it would be to mop up and control the fire zones on those fires that have been contained.

“That will help free up additional resources here in B.C.,” Farnworth said. “We’ve also asked for additional heavy lifting aircraft to be able to move heavy equipment to where it’s needed, as well as the potential of emergency aircraft to assist in evacuations from remote communities.”

B.C. has 3,400 wildfire personnel working on 600 fires across the province, including contractors, municipal firefighters, forest industry personnel and out-of-province crews from across Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.

Farnworth said while the total area affected is about one quarter what B.C. faced last year, the number of fires is above the 10-year average. “Last year there were fewer fires, but they were vastly larger than what we’re seeing today,” he said.

B.C. has spent about $207 million so far on the fire season, substantially less than last year’s record season.

“One of the big impacts in terms of costs last year that we have not faced to date this year has been the evacuation and housing of people and all of the resources that went into ensuring that their needs are met,” Farnworth said.

BC legislaturebc wildfires

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

Just Posted

A battery electric-hybrid ferry, pictured here, is expected to make its way to Vancouver Island in late 2021, says B.C. Ferries. (Submitted photo)
Hybrid ferry for Gabriola-Nanaimo route launches in shipyard in Europe

Two hybrid vessels to replace MV Quinsam by early 2022, says B.C. Ferries

Vancouver Island Symphony conductor Pierre Simard is releasing his new synthwave album ‘Plandemic’ on March 5. (Photo courtesy Olivia Simard)
Vancouver Island Symphony conductor releasing side-project EP of electronic music

Pierre Simard, recording as Plan Omega, presents ‘Plandemic’

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a B.C. Ferries vessel. (File photo)
Nanaimo ferry passengers who refused to wear masks and caused disturbance fined $460 each

Incident happened Sunday, Feb. 21, aboard the Queen of Cowichan

Beef to the woman walking two dogs that attacked my two small chihuahua dogs along Estevan Road. I was dragged down the embankment with my dogs. All three of us were pinned against the fence by your dogs with no escape route. Your dogs were on retractable leashes that were not appropriate for their size and weight and you had no control over them at all.
Beefs & Bouquets, Feb. 24

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

The Port of Nanaimo has signed a 50-year-agreement with DP World around short-sea shipping operations at Duke Point Terminal. (News Bulletin file photo)
Port of Nanaimo and DP World sign 50-year shipping operations agreement

Lease agreement ‘important first step’ in $105-million Duke Point expansion project

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Nanaimo’s Joanne Secord is a quarterfinalist in Inked Magazine’s Cover Model Search contest. (Janayh Wright Photography)
50-year-old Nanaimo mom hopes her tattoos will earn her a magazine cover shoot

Joanne Secord on cusp of semifinals in Inked Magazine contest

Nanaimo Courthouse. (News Bulletin file photo)
Motorist sentenced to two years for dangerous driving causing death on Gabriola Island

William Goosman pleaded guilty last fall in connection with incident that killed Jay Dearman

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

Most Read