Federal government sending military to B.C., Manitoba to help tame wildfires

·2 min read
The Thomas Creek Fire, 1.5 km east of Skaha Lake, is shown near Okanagan Falls, B.C., in this recent photo. The federal government is sending up to 350 Canadian Forces personnel to B.C. to help tame its wildfires. (Penticton Herald-Mark Brett/The Canadian Press - image credit)
The Thomas Creek Fire, 1.5 km east of Skaha Lake, is shown near Okanagan Falls, B.C., in this recent photo. The federal government is sending up to 350 Canadian Forces personnel to B.C. to help tame its wildfires. (Penticton Herald-Mark Brett/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The federal government on Tuesday announced it's sending the Canadian Forces into British Columbia after the province declared a state of emergency in response to wildfires still raging out of control.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in a social media post that the government has approved a request for help and will send up to 350 Canadian Forces personnel to help the B.C. Wildfire Service "extinguish wildfires and monitor the situation across B.C."

The Nk'Mip Creek fire continues to burn on Osoyoos Indian Band land between the towns of Oliver and Osoyoos, about 40 kilometres south of Penticton. The B.C. Wildfire Service previously referred to the fire as the Inkaneep Creek wildfire, but changed the name on Tuesday.

As of 2:30 p.m. PT, the fire was estimated to cover 20 square kilometres — up from seven square kilometres on Monday night.

Hundreds of wildfires are now burning across B.C., including more than 100 wildfires concentrated in the Interior. As of Monday, there were more than 2,570 properties on an evacuation order provincewide.

As many as 15,685 properties are under evacuation alert across B.C.

Fighting the fires has been difficult for emergency crews battling the strong winds pushing the fire across very dry forests. Hundreds of people were ordered to evacuate their properties Monday after the wildfire increased in size.

Evacuations happened very suddenly and officials say they haven't been able to confirm exactly how many people are out of their homes.

The weather in the Interior has been challenging for fire crews. There was no rain in the southern half of the province over the weekend, and some areas haven't seen rain for nearly five weeks.

Conditions are expected to stay hot, bone-dry and windy through the week.

The federal government is also sending approximately 120 Canadian Armed Forces members to Manitoba to support that province's firefighting efforts.

In a news release issued by Public Safety Canada late Tuesday, the government said it has approved a formal request for federal assistance from the province.

"The number of wildfires that Manitoba has experienced since the beginning of the year is well above the seasonal average and has resulted in over 500,000 hectares burned," the statement read, in part. "This has placed a considerable strain on local and provincial firefighting resources."

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