B.C. firefighters head to Australia to battle blazes

B.C. firefighters head to Australia to battle blazes

5 January 2007

published by www.canada.com

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada — Fifty-two B.C. forest fire specialists headed south today to help their Australian counterparts battle massive bushfires that have burned an estimated 870,000 hectares so far in the state of Victoria, and destroyed more than 30 homes and a ski lodge.

Provincial Minister of Forests Rich Coleman came to the Vancouver International Airport this afternoon to shake hands with the fire specialists prior to their flights.

“British Columbians should be pretty proud of the fact that these people behind me, in our forest service, are people who are recognized around the world as being the best in this business there is,” he said. “When they [international fire services] need help, they call on British Columbia to send help.”

The B.C. contingent includes specialists in a variety of areas, including logistics, communications and aircraft rappelling.

Costs of the trip are being paid for by Australia, under the terms of a cooperation agreement recently signed by B.C. and Australian wildland firefightingagences.

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