Global help arrives in Canada as Quebec fights ‘historic’ wildfires

By Rek Hanibal Published on June 09, 2023
Global help arrives in Canada as Quebec fights ‘historic’ wildfires

Wildfires began to spread quickly early this month, jumping from 36 to over 100 after a 1 June thunderstorm. 

After a seemingly ordinary start to the fire season, "within three days, everything went very bad", said Philippe Bergeron with Quebec's firefighting agency.

The growing flames have drained local firefighting resources.

Global firefighters are arriving in Quebec to help put out the more than 130 forest fires currently burning in the region.

Around 110 firefighters from France were scheduled to arrive in Quebec on Thursday, and some additional help has already arrived from the nearby province of New Brunswick.

Without the extra hands, Mr Bergeron said Quebec's local firefighting capabilities would only be able to handle around 25 to 35 large forest fires at any given time. 

The province typically has around 250 local firefighters that are ready to battle wildfires at any given year, Mr Bergeron said - a fraction of the 1,200 that Quebec Premier Francois Legault said is needed to successfully help fight the current fires.

To meet the unprecedented need, the province has trained 300 additional people in Quebec City over the last week so they can be deployed immediately.

Mr Bergeron said they have undergone three days of intense training and "most of them are people experienced in the forest, either forest workers or they have previous firefighting experience".

An additional 600 firefighters from the US are also heading for Canada, with some expected to arrive in Quebec next week, he said.

Rek Hanibal

Rek Hanibal

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