A team of 100 firefighters from South Africa has arrived in Canada to help combat the raging wildfires in British Columbia. The firefighters were welcomed by Canadian officials and local residents at the Edmonton International Airport on Sunday. They will undergo training and orientation before being deployed to various fire zones in the province.
The South African firefighters are part of a bilateral agreement between the two countries that allows for mutual assistance in times of emergency. The agreement was signed in 2015, after Canada sent firefighters to South Africa to help with wildfires there. The South African firefighters have experience in fighting fires in dry and mountainous terrain, similar to the conditions in British Columbia.
The Canadian government has expressed its gratitude and appreciation for the support from South Africa. The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair, said that the firefighters’ arrival “demonstrates the strength of our friendship and our ability to cooperate in times of crisis”. He also praised the firefighters for their courage and professionalism.
The wildfires in British Columbia have burned more than 8,000 square kilometers of land and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes. The province has declared a state of emergency and requested assistance from other provinces and countries. The South African firefighters are among the more than 3,000 personnel working to contain the fires and protect communities.