VANCOUVER — Military aircraft and many of the armed forces personnel loaned to British Columbia by the federal government at the height of the wildfire season are preparing to return to their home bases.
A news release from the Department of National Defence says most federal resources will be sent home as officials in B.C. determine there’s no longer a need for mop-up support on wildfires in the Okanagan.
About 100 personnel, mostly reservists from three separate Canadian brigade groups, will stay in southern B.C. to help with a fire near Princeton.
Canadian Armed Forces planes carried more than 47,000 kilograms of freight, transported 115 passengers and conducted 49 reconnaissance flights and other missions over the wildfires in the weeks after B.C. requested assistance on Aug. 13.
More than 400 soldiers and other personnel assisted with mop-up, aircraft maintenance and various other duties during the deployment.
B.C. declared a provincial state of emergency as hundreds of wildfires flared in August, but rescinded the order last Friday, Sept. 7 as all but the southeastern corner of the province is now listed at a low to very low risk of further fires.
The BC Wildfire Service says more than 13,300 square kilometres of woodland has been charred by more than 2,000 wildfires since April.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says his thoughts are with those affected and he is pleased members of the armed forces could assist.
“Though the damage is devastating, I am proud of the contribution our Canadian Armed Forces have made during this time of need,” Sajjan says in the release.
“From transporting equipment and firefighters, to containing the fire’s spread through mop-up operations, our women and men in uniform demonstrated their professionalism and readiness to answer the call to serve and protect their fellow Canadians.”