With more than 300 wildfires burning in the province for most of the past week, B.C. is bringing in much-needed outside wildfire help.
Emergency Management B.C. announced Friday (July 16) that a crew of 20 firefighters from Quebec was expected to arrive the same day, with a 100-person contingent of Mexican firefighters expected to touch down in Abbotsford on July 24.
"We're deploying all available resources to respond to hundreds of wildfires across the province and will continue to do everything possible to protect communities," Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general, said in the release. "We are grateful for firefighters from Mexico and Quebec who will help strengthen our wildfire response and protect British Columbians."
Emergency Management B.C is part of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General and was previously known as the Provincial Emergency Program (PEP).
"We appreciate the firefighting assistance we're receiving from other Canadian provinces and from Mexico," Katrine Conroy—Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development—said in the release. "These crews are a welcome addition to our own firefighters and contractors, who are working extremely hard to help keep B.C. communities safe."
The B.C. Wildfire Service (part of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development) will direct the new crews to work on suppressing wildfires in the Interior, where some of the worst blazes continue to burn out of control and which have caused air-quality and evacuation alerts to be issued.
Premier John Horgan has not yet declared a state of emergency in B.C. as a result of the wildfire situation, telling reporters on July 16 that he will consider issuing such a declaration when advised to do so by frontline agencies involved in the day-to-day situation.
The new firefighters will work in COVID-19 "bubbles" separate from B.C. crews while fighting fires and when away from the frontlines.
The Mexicans will be tested for COVID-19 both before their departure and after their arrival, when they will be offered vaccinations, according to the release.