6 Aug 2017

Team of 80 NZers to fight rampant Canada wildfires

2:26 pm on 6 August 2017

Dozens of New Zealand firefighters are on their way to Canada to help combat the wildfires that are ripping through the country.

Smoke from wildfires in British Columbia drift towards Vancouver, covering the city in smoke for a fourth day on Friday.

Smoke from wildfires in British Columbia drifts towards Vancouver, covering the city in smoke for a fourth day on Friday. Photo: AFP

More than 200 wildfires are burning across Canada, with 135 of those ablaze in British Columbia alone.

The province is in a state of emergency and more than 474,000 hectares of land and forest have been burnt. Thousands of people have been forced to evacute their homes.

A team of 80 firefighters, Department of Conservation staff and forestry contractors from New Zealand are flying to Vancouver this weekend to begin what's expected to be a five-week deployment to combat one of the worst wildfire seasons there in 60 years.

It follows a call for help from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre earlier this week.

Fire and Emergency rural manager Kevin O'Connor said the team would join the more than 3000 people and 200 aircraft already involved in the response.

They will also join a team from Australia, who arrived late last month.

"Canada is close to exhausting all available wildfire management resources within their country. To help provide ongoing relief, New Zealand is sending a team of firefighters and operational personnel to provide front-line and incident management support to local firefighters."

"The total area burnt this season in Canada sits at 1,202,645 hectares, and is increasing at about 8000 hectares per day," he said.

It will be the fourth time firefighters from New Zealand have travelled to Canada to help during its wildfire season, the first of which was in 2009.

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