The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment announced that a fourth group of 215 South African firefighters from the department’s Working on Fire Programme are set to fly out to British Columbia, Canada, on Friday.
JOHANNESBURG – South Africa has deployed more firefighters to assist as Canada experiences its worst wildfire season in history.
“Canada is experiencing its worst wildfire season in their history, with evacuations happening in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories this past weekend,” said the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, on Wednesday.
The department said a fourth group of 215 South African firefighters from the department’s Working on Fire Programme (WOF) were set to fly out to the province of British Columbia, Canada, on Friday.
The department said the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) requested a fourth team of WOF firefighters to be deployed.
“These firefighters will start to assemble at the Kishugu Training Academy this week as they start their preparations to be deployed to Canada, while at the same time, the third group of Working on Fire firefighters (215), who have been deployed to the provinces of Alberta and the Northwest Territories, will return home to South Africa on Wednesday after a successful 33-day deployment,” the department said.
“The deployment of the Mzanzi4 firefighters will bring in a total of 860 firefighters and management who would have been deployed to Canada during their worst fire season in history, with more than 5,800 fires recorded so far this year, destroying more than 14 million hectares. More than 137 000km² have been burned from one end of Canada to the other, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre.”
Creecy extended her best wishes to the team, Mzanzi4 firefighters, ahead of their trip.
“The deployment of our South African firefighters to Canada since June this year has been a resounding success thus far, and they have received huge praise from Canadian wildfire authorities as well as the other international firefighters from countries such as the US, Mexico, Spain, Chile and Australia.
“Our firefighters were lauded for their energy, their strong work ethic, and safety measures on the fire line, as well as for the way they have accustomed themselves to the conditions in Canada, where wilderness firefighting conditions are different from what they are used to in South Africa,” said Creecy.