More B.C. firefighters head to Australia as wildfires continue to burn

More B.C. firefighters are on their way to Australia to help battle wildfires that have ravaged the country. 

Thirteen B.C. firefighters are currently in the country, said Bob Warner, manager of wildfire operations for the B.C. Wildfire Service.

They're among dozens of Canadians who spent the holidays helping out Down Under. Some will return home in early January.

At least 35 more Canadian firefighters, including five from B.C., will head to Queensland and New South Wales starting Dec. 30, Warner said. 

Their efforts have so far been well-received, Warner said.

"Australians are very grateful for folks giving up their Christmas and coming over," he said.

Recent cooler temperatures and rain have assisted with efforts, he added, but it's been short-lived.

"Summer is just beginning in Australia," Warner said.

"The staff there, the firefighters will be going hard now for three months."

Warner said this is the first time since 2009 that Canadian firefighters have been sent to Australia.

Australian crews helped in B.C. during record-setting wildfire seasons in 2017 and 2018.

About 50,000 square kilometres of land in Australia has burned over the past few months, with nine people killed and more than 950 homes destroyed.