Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, has released the following statement regarding assistance provided by the Canadian Armed Forces for this year’s wildfire season:
“As every British Columbian knows, this fire season has been one of the most challenging and persistent on record. Although we are still early in the fire season, it has already proven to be a difficult time for communities, First Nations, people living in the affected areas and BC Wildfire Service firefighters.
“Our firefighting crews and emergency management personnel have done an incredible job keeping people safe. We know that the road ahead of us is long, complex and challenging. Last week, I made a request to federal Minister Bill Blair for federal assistance to support our response to the wildfires across B.C.
“I am thankful the federal government quickly approved our request and deployed the Canadian Armed Forces and the Canadian Coast Guard to aid in suppressing wildfires. This support is substantial, robust and will give British Columbia the tools and personnel it needs to keep people safe.
“I want to thank the Minister of National Defence Anita Anand and Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair for partnering with us on this effort.
“The Canadian Armed Forces will be directly involved with fighting fires, and will provide two helicopters and one Hercules aircraft for mobility and logistical tasks, including evacuation of isolated communities, and planning and co-ordination support.
“The Canadian Armed Forces also deployed a reconnaissance team on Sunday, July 16, 2023. This team, currently based in Prince George, is working with the emergency operation centre and the BC Wildfire Service to determine where and how the Canadian Armed Forces can best assist with response operations. Additionally, a Canadian Armed Forces team was deployed to the BC Wildfire Service Provincial Wildfire Coordination Centre in Kamloops.
“Plans are underway to deploy the first company of soldiers from the Canadian Forces Base Edmonton to the Burns Lake area, in the Northwest Fire Centre, and the second to Vanderhoof, at the Prince George Fire Centre.
“The Canadian Coast Guard will support the management, operations and administrative activities of the BC Wildfire Service’s incident command posts. The coast guard will also provide a maritime staging facility for firefighting equipment and personnel, two helicopters to transport firefighters and equipment to remote locations, and assistance to remote coastal communities if access becomes restricted.
“Indigenous Services Canada is working closely with the Province, First Nations’ Emergency Services Society of British Columbia and the First Nations Health Authority to ensure First Nations are fully equipped to respond to evacuations.
“These federal resources will join teams from Australia, as well as more than 350 international personnel currently in place in B.C. from the U.S., Mexico and New Zealand. These teams work alongside the approximate 2,000 BC Wildfire Service personnel across B.C. We greatly appreciate having such reliable and skilled resources to draw from.”