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United Australian effort to assist with Canadian wildfires

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13 Jul 2015
Emergency personnel from across Australia will fly to Vancouver today to assist with the escalating wildfire situation in Canada.

Several large wildfires have been raging in Canada’s western provinces over the last few weeks with hundreds of new fires starting on a daily basis. There are currently 452 wildfires burning, totalling nearly 1.3 million hectares.

Crews from Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania, Queensland, and South Australia and will fly into Vancouver, and then travel to key areas that have been affected in British Columbia and Alberta. Seven liaison officers are already there.

The 102 Australians will fulfill specialist leadership roles in incident management and aircraft support.

In the past 24 hours alone, there have been 111 new fires – 66 of these in British Columbia and 24 within Alberta.
More than 13,000 people were evacuated from their homes earlier this week due to northern Saskatchewan blazes, according to Red Cross.

British Columbia’s relationship with Australia in sharing firefighting resources has been in place for over 15 years. This agreement allows for the exchange of personnel, knowledge, skills, equipment, technology and mutual support in the event of an emergency.

Fire personnel from British Columbia were deployed to Australia in 2007 and 2009 to help respond to busy fire seasons here, given the Australian fire season typically occurs during British Columbia’s winter and spring months. Personnel from Australia and New Zealand were deployed to British Columbia to assist with firefighting efforts in 2009 and 2014.

Emergency Management Victoria are coordinating the deployment on behalf of all Australian states and territories.

"The Australian deployment will travel to Canada to assist in firefighting efforts for around six weeks. Our aim is to support our Canadian counterparts to bring the wildfires under control as quickly as possible," Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said.

"Australia has skilled firefighters and emergency management personnel who can operate in specialist roles and can work with our international partners.

"Australia has cross-border arrangements for sharing personnel, resources and aircraft and it is important that we continue to operate with no borders and support each other and our international colleagues where needed.

"We are proud of the relationship Australia has built with Canada over the past 15 years, and the support we can provide during their time of need."

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