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Boots on the ground: Military arrives in Vanderhoof to help firefighters

75 soldiers helping with wildfire efforts in Vanderhoof, more 75 expected to arrive in Burns Lake

Soldiers have arrived in Vanderhoof to help firefighters battle active wildfires in northwest B.C.

On July 18, Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma announced 75 military personnel were sent to Vanderhoof and 75 more will be arriving in Burns Lake within the next two days.

The military arrived in Vanderhoof from the Edmonton base and set up base inside the local Curling Club and their vehicles are parked at the Nechako Valley Secondary School. Soldiers were deployed as part of federal assistance in the province’s wildfire fight

Hundreds of tents have been set up on the Nechako Valley Exhibition grounds to accommodate the soldiers and the firefighters who have arrived from out of town, including Mexico and the United States.

In Burns Lake, the military contingent will be based at the Lakes District Secondary School, which lies along Highway 16. Members of the military, vehicles and infrastructure will be visible to community members and travellers along the highway.

In a post, BC Wildfire Service said the military personnel will work alongside firefighters on the firelines to help bring wildfires in the area under control.

“The BC Wildfire Service welcomes the support and assistance of the Canadian military as we respond to the wildfires in the Nadina area,” added the incident management team.

Ma says forecasters are expecting an increase in fire activity, as shifting winds lead to clearer skies, higher temperatures, and lower humidity.

The province has already set a record for the total area burned in a year with about 14,000 square kilometres scorched across B.C.

BC Wildfire Service officials say the season has not yet hit its peak and they are warning that the drought that has helped fuel the flames this season could roll into next year, potentially causing the 2024 fire season to start early.

Ma says about 150 people are currently under evacuation orders due to the wildfires, while about 3,400 people are under evacuation alerts and must be ready to leave at short notice in the northwest, northeast and Cariboo regions of the province.

-With files from The Canadian Press