B.C. expected to request Ottawa’s help with worsening wildfires: minister

B.C. expected to request Ottawa's help with worsening wildfires: minister
Flames from the Donnie Creek wildfire burn along a ridge top north of Fort St. John, British Columbia, Sunday, July 2, 2023.

Canada’s Emergency Preparedness Minister says he is expecting a “fairly substantive” request for help from British Columbia as wildfires worsen.

Bill Blair tells The Canadian Press the government operations centre has been in discussions with the province for the last several days, and Ottawa is ready to deploy the needed resources as the formal request for help is expected today.

That’s said to include military assistance for airlift evacuations from remote locations, as well as members of the military trained as firefighters who can provide “mop up” help to keep blazes from reigniting once they’ve been put out.

The Canadian Coast Guard is mobilizing support for affected coastal communities, and Natural Resources Canada staff with forest management expertise are also preparing to help.

Blair adds there are a number of national parks in B.C., so Parks Canada is ready to aid the province with park firefighters and forest management experts.

Blair says B.C. is one of the better equipped provinces to handle fires because it is often among the hardest hit, but any extra help needed is being made available.

There are more than 350 wildfires burning in all corners of the province, and the BC Wildfire Service warns another blast of heat in many areas could add more burdens on already overstretched crews.

The wildfire service says a week-old, 300-square-kilometre blaze close to Highway 37 just south of the Yukon boundary has been calm, but it and similar fires across northern B.C. could flare up during the next several days of expected hot weather.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2023.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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