Twenty-three firefighters from the Cariboo Fire Centre are on their way to Oregon, as part of a 230-member Canadian contingent deployed to help fight back flames ravaging the U.S. state.
The firefighters are mostly from the Raven Unit Crew, based in Williams Lake, Quesnel and Alexis Creek and include three single resources, said Forrest Tower, fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service. They will join between 40 to 50 “overhead personnel” ⏤ supervisors, specialists and technical experts ⏤ from Ontario, Manitoba, B.C. and Alberta.
The Cariboo crew, which spent the past few days being prepped in Chilliwack, are expected to arrive in Oregon later today, and will likely be on the fire line in the next few days. They will be deployed for up to 19 days in Oregon, one of three states where wildfires are razing buildings and forcing people from their homes. Gusting winds and low humidity Wednesday urged on blazes that have so far killed at least eight people, destroyed more than 1,000 homes and scorched more than 4,000 square kilometres.
The B.C. crews will remain separate in their own camps to keep them separate from the U.S. firefighters to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“When down there, our crews are operating in their own little bubbles, they’re not mixing with the U.S. crews,” Tower said. “Everyone kind of remains separate to reduce exposure.”
Tower said the BC Wildfire Service is only sending 206 members, allowing it to retain a healthy reserve of firefighters in the province. Despite a few fire fires this summer, B.C. has been lucky this year, he said.
With a file from Canadian Press