One hundred and one firefighters have been sent to Canada to help combat forest fires on the request of its northern trading partner, where the situation has been classified as critical.
The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) set a Level 5 preparedness warning on July 12, the highest on the scale.
The Mexican contingent flew into Toronto on the weekend to join efforts in Ontario, where an emergency order was issued by the province, marking the fourth occasion that the National Forest Commission has sent personnel to Canada to assist with the suppression of wildfires. As of Sunday morning, there were more than 100 forest fires burning in northwestern Ontario. On Thursday, an unidentified firefighter died while tackling a blaze.
The Mexican contingent is formed of five brigades, including three women amid five brigade chiefs, 20 squad chiefs, over 60 ranking firefighters and a Covid-19 coordinator, among others, from 22 states. They convened in Zapopan, Jalisco, for Covid-19 and medical tests between June 15 and 17.
A historic heatwave last month has contributed to this year’s wildfire season in Canada, which has torched 270,000 hectares in British Columbia and over the weekend pumped thick smoke into the air across Alberta, obscuring the Edmonton and Calgary skylines.
CIFFC executive director Kim Connors said this is the most active fire season the agency has seen in years, and that there was no relief in sight. “This is far from over … There’s a lot of work to do. Some of these are big fires and they burn deep. They’re very hot fires and it takes a lot of work to put these fires out,” he said.