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B.C. wildfires: Army reservists deployed from Calgary to help fight fires in Okanagan, Shuswap

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Around 40 soldiers from 41 Canadian Brigade Group in Calgary will be deployed early Monday morning to help fight fires in southern B.C.

According to a Department of Defense release on Sunday afternoon, the brigade will be deployed as part of Operation LENTUS at 6 a.m. on Monday. The operation is the Canadian Armed Forces’ operational response to natural disasters.

This comes as multiple communities in the Shuswap region in B.C. are being threatened by wildfires.

Thousands of evacuees remain out of their Shuswap area homes as the Bush Creek East fire continues to burn out of control.

B.C. Wildfire officials said there has been no significant growth on this fire over the last three to four days, currently estimated to be over 43,000 hectares.

“We’re looking forward to getting an early deployment over to British Columbia and expecting a long drive ahead,” said Master Corporal Austin Longstreet.

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“We’ll hit the ground over there, get some orders and briefings, and then start digging.”

Colonel Christopher Hunt said the soldiers will be first deployed to Vernon and will then be deployed to communities in the province based on where they are needed.

The crew from Calgary will be join with other reservists across Western Canada as part of a domestic response company of around 100 soldiers.

Soldiers will be taking a one-day firefighting course before being deployed, which will free up firefighters who are already on the ground to focus on more deliberate efforts.

Hunt told Global News the B.C. government made the request to the federal government for assistance

“When the initial request came in through our chain of command, we checked with all the reserve units and saw who was available. We’re looking at a deployment out until September 15th,” he said.

“We’ve seen this is the worst wildfire season on record in British Columbia. Whatever we can do to free up provincial resources so that the professional firefighters are able to concentrate on the most dangerous areas and get control of them just helps those communities and hopefully stabilize the situation faster.

“Whatever the province needs in terms of labour that fits with their training, the soldiers are there to provide that assistance.”

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–With files from Jayme Doll and Jayden Wasney, Global News.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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