'Devastation and heartbreak': Aussie firefighters sent into horrific wildfires

·2-min read

More than 50 Australian firefighters are being deployed to Canada to help battle hundreds of massive wildfires threatening homes.

Firefighters from NSW and Western Australia have joined forces in a biosecurity bubble at Brighton-Le-Sands in Sydney for a pre-deployment briefing.

The 55-person contingent of firefighters and emergency services volunteers will fly out tonight to some of the hardest hit regions in Canada.

Smoke billows from a wildfire near Osoyoos, British Columbia, Canada July 19, 2021, in this picture from social media. Source: Reuters
There are around 250 fires burning in British Columbia alone amid a major heatwave. Source: Reuters

Among them are 22 experts from the NSW Rural Fire Service, 10 from Fire and Rescue NSW, three from NSW State Emergency Service and 17 firefighters from across Western Australia.

The Aussie team will take over from their fatigued Canadian counterparts in operations management and logistics roles in some of the hardest hit regions.

They will be deployed for five weeks and will have to isolate in hotel quarantine when they return in August.

NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said their contribution will be invaluable to the firefighting efforts in Canada. 

A photo of firefighters at their pre-deployment briefing before flying to Canada. The group poses on a stairway as two firefighters hold an Australian flag at the front. Source: NSW Rural Fire Service
55 Australian firefighters have been deployed overseas as Canada battles massive wildfires. Source: NSW Rural Fire Service

“The people of NSW know only too well the sense of devastation and heartbreak being felt by our friends in Canada, where hundreds of fires are being fought,” Mr Elliott said.

“We send our thoughts but – better than that – NSW is sending 38 of our best: highly-skilled, highly-trained firefighters and emergency personnel to help those impacted communities."

Victorian firefighters banned from helping in Canada

As other states send help to battle the massive wildfires in Canada, Victorian firefighters will remain behind.

Emergency Management Victoria has ruled it does not have the resources to put towards the emergency response in North America because of public health advice, the ongoing clean-up effort from wild weather in June and preparation for the Australian bushfire season.

Smoke rises above the small western Canadian town of Lytton after wildfires forced its residents to evacuate, in Lytton, British Columbia, Canada June 30, 2021. Source: Reuters
A state of emergency has been declared for British Colombia and Ontario. Source: Reuters

Towns evacuated and homes destroyed as fires rage across Canada

Canada is facing its worst wildfire season on record, as hundreds of blazes rage across its southwest during a record heatwave and extended drought.

Towns have been evacuated and homes destroyed, with a state of emergency declared in British Columbia and Ontario.

Crews from the United States and Mexico are already on the ground providing support.

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