21 Yukon firefighters head to Alberta
Yukon is sending several crews of firefighters to Alberta on Tuesday, to help deal with dozens of wildfires burning across the province.
"Obviously it hits close to home, and we're really happy to be able to help out," said Haley Ritchie with Yukon Wildland Fire Management.
Twenty-one people are being sent from Yukon, including six initial attack crews from Dawson City and Whitehorse. They'll be gone for up to 19 days, including travel.
As of Tuesday morning, 89 wildfires were burning across Alberta, 24 of which were burning out of control. Around 30,000 people remain displaced from their homes.
The province, which remains in a state of emergency, has asked the federal government for help and requested military assistance to help maintain order and prevent looting in evacuation zones. Meanwhile, firefighting aid has been coming from across the country.
Yukon's wildfire season, meantime, is off to a quiet start. As of Tuesday, there was just one active wildfire burning — a six-hectare prescribed burn near Haines Junction — and the territory's fire danger was considered low.
Ritchie said about half the Yukon firefighting personnel going to Alberta are contract workers and half are government employees. Some are contracted through the Yukon First Nations Wildfire partnership.
She's not sure where they'll be deployed in Alberta, saying that's up to officials in that province.
"They'll assign them where they need them most," Ritchie said.
She said if things should suddenly change in Yukon, those firefighters can be recalled to the territory within 24 hours.
"Obviously we're not sending all our staff down there. Adequate crews will remain at all Yukon fire bases."
Yukon is part of the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, which allows provinces and territories to share firefighting resources as needed.
Yukon also sent firefighters to Alberta in 2016 to help respond to the Fort McMurray fire.