Fire-fatigued crews in British Columbia are getting more help from the Canadian Armed Forces as 100 military members from the Edmonton garrison arrived in Williams Lake on Saturday morning.
The B.C. government requested the extra soldiers, Lt.-Col. Derek Prohar, commander of the military land task force, said Saturday from Williams Lake.
Members from the 1st Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry bring the total number of soldiers sent to B.C. from Canadian Forces Base Edmonton to about 300, he said.
“In Edmonton, we have an immediate-reaction unit on standby at all times to aid Canadians,” Prohar said.
The soldiers will help with mop up operations and put out hot spots at the direction of a wildfire services officer.
“We’ll take pickaxe and shovels, walk through a burnt-out area and if roots are burning for example or trees… we’ll dig that up and spray water on it, in order to ensure there isn’t a flame up flare up later on.”
Prohar said the military is there to support professional firefighters on the ground who have the training and expertise.
“The more we can do these back areas or mop up operations, the more these professional firefighters can move forward and actually stop fires from burning through communities or getting to be a problem in the first place.”
The military started arriving in B.C. on July 20 to help RCMP at road-side check stops, to inform people of the risks and also let some know whether they should evacuate from their homes.
About 150 reserve soldiers from B.C. are also joining the effort in Williams Lake.