As the McDougall Creek wildfire near Kelowna continues to grow, Vancouver Island fire departments are sending crews to help douse the flames.
The wildfire that has destroyed homes in West Kelowna and resulted in numerous evacuations had grown to an estimated 6,800 hectares by Friday afternoon.
Saanich, Central Saanich and Ladysmith are three Vancouver Island fire departments who have sent crews out to Kelowna to help fight the blaze.
Saanich sent a crew of four and one engine, according to assistant deputy chief Craig Ford.
“They’re up there supporting all the structural defense operations. So they’ll be protecting homes, and then if there’s any flame impingement homes, they’ll be actually doing the actual structural firefighting,” said Ford.
“We’ve committed for them to be there for 14 days, and then if there needs to be a replacement crew at that time, we’ll cycle another crew in. We’re basically committed to the province as long as they need us with that apparatus.”
Ladysmith, Central Saanich, North Saanich, Sidney, Beaver Creek, Cherry Creek, Sproat Lake, Port Hardy, Mill Bay, North Cowichan and Lake Cowichan fire departments have deployed crews on Friday to head to the area.
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Ford says crews that are deployed to Kelowna undergo training to ensure they can do it safely.
“There’s what’s called the interagency agreement, which is between the B.C. fire chiefs and BC wildfire, and there’s certain training parameters, there’s courses that you have to maintain and take, and all of our members that go up on the deployments have those, so that’s learning how to be safe and how to work in that wildfire environment,” Ford said.
“But we train here in our own wildfire environment as well, we have the wildland trucks, we have the sprinkler protection capabilities here as well. So it’s not new to them, they’re immersed in here as well,” he said. “It’s just, you see some fairly significant fire, dynamic and fire behavior situations there that we typically don’t see here.”