Greetings from Canada where we are midway through the first rotation of our deployment to British Columbia. It’s tough work in rugged country, but fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable.
Our people are spread far and wide. We’ve got teams as far north as Dease Lake and as far south as Grand Forks, almost 1800km away. We’re staying in a mixture of camps, hotels and rented accommodation. Surprisingly the camps are proving the most popular because everything is laid on there.
The hours are long, but the temperatures have been relatively cool, up to the high-20s in some places during the day and down to 2 degrees Celsius at night. Some of our crews are doing initial attack as new fires break out; others are doing sustained attack on larger fires.
There’s a lot of digging, back burning and dry firefighting techniques that we don’t use in New Zealand. They also used fixed wing aircraft to fight fires here which we don’t do at home. The biggest difference is the scale of everything. There are currently about 560 fires burning in the province and the biggest are much bigger than anything we encounter in New Zealand. Some of them are expected to burn for months.
Messages of Thanks – Here are a few of hundreds of thank you messages coming in from around the world
“Stay safe everyone, you have a huge job ahead. Thoughts and prayers for all”
“Wow guys and girls, having just flown into Vancouver/ Calgary today we are amazed by the smoke from the BC fires. Good luck with your mission, I’m pretty sure the Canadians will be grateful for your support.”
“Fantastic stuff NZ fire fighters, stay safe out there”
Some of the great people our team from Okareka have been working with in the Cariboo Fire Region, British Columbia, Canada. Just like our younger firefighters at Okareka the skills of Canada’s younger initial attack teams is impressive and it’s great to stand beside them and help.