B.C. public servants have been reassigned, inter-provincial crews activated, international crews called in and B.C.’s private sector called to the field due to the intensifying wildfires burning across the Interior.
While a guest on the “get fire smart” podcast, Penticton fire chief Larry Watkinson said “we’ve had the fifth driest season on record.”
As a result there are currently (July 21) 295 active wildfires across the province with the largest estimated to be over 47,000 hectares, northwest of Kamloops.
“We are putting all hands on deck” stated Premier Horgan during a press conference on July 16, four days before he called a state of emergency over the burning blazes.
There are currently 1,965 provincial firefighters, 1,080 private firefighters and 135 out-of-province firefighters working collectively to battle fires deemed threatening to people and properties. International crews will be arriving soon. In addition, there are 178 aircrafts actively providing support and water bombing.
Government workers have also been asked to volunteer through TEAMS (Temporary Emergency Assignment Management System), a program which offers government employees from different ministries the chance to use there skills to assist in the fire effort.
According to BC Wildfire, many of the volunteers being reassigned are from the the forestry ministry, as well as BC Parks staff.
The private sector is also ramping up employees in preparation of stepping in to help. For example Nakimu Ventures based in Revelstoke posted on Facebook last week (July 14) looking to hire.
Provincial and territorial firefighters New Brunswick, Alberta, Québec, Nova Scotia and the Yukon have also travelled to B.C. to assist.
One hundred Mexican fire fighters are set to arrive in Abbotsford on July 24, representing the first international crews to come to B.C.’s aid.
The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are helping with air transport of personnel, supplies, and equipment, as well as evacuations.