Mexico sends second group of firefighters to Canada

The Government of Mexico, through the National Forestry Commission (Conafor), sent a second group of firefighters to contribute to the mitigation and extinction tasks of the more than 300 active forest fires that affect the province of British Columbia in Canada.

The second Mexican group of 100 firefighters arrived on July 24 at Vancouver’s Abbotsford International Airport, where they were received by a delegation led by the Consul General of Mexico in Vancouver, Berenice Díaz Ceballos.

The assistance from Mexico takes place within the Memorandum of Understanding for the Exchange of Resources for Forest Fire Management between both countries.

Conafor, the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, and the Ministry of Foreign Relations managed the cooperation together with the Canadian Center for Forest Fire Interagency (CIFFC).

This is the fourth time that the agreement between the two countries has been activated, and the second so far this year.

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Security for the province of British Columbia, has declared that the situation in this province is critical.

Consequently, the decision has been made to carry out mass evacuations and provide emergency accommodation for the evacuees, and put other surrounding populations at risk on alert.

Mexico followed up on the Canadian government’s request for help and sent the first contingent of 101 combatants on July 17 to the province of Ontario, which was received by a delegation led by the Mexican ambassador to Canada. Juan José Gómez Camacho, and the Consul General in Toronto, Porfirio Thierry Muñoz Ledo.

The Government of Canada confirmed the availability to inoculate members of the Mexican contingent against COVID-19 upon arrival, as part of bilateral cooperation.

Mexico reiterated the friendship, cooperation, and solidarity with the Government of Canada.

British Columbia, which suffered an extreme heatwave in late June and early July with record temperatures reaching 49.6 ° C that killed about 500 people, is experiencing one of the worst wildfire seasons in its history.

More than 3,000 firefighters from across the country are in the province to help control the fires that have forced the evacuation of thousands of people in recent days.

So far this year, more than 3,000 square kilometers of forest have been burned by 1,162 declared fires.

In Ontario, authorities have been forced to place the northwestern part of the province under an emergency alert due to the number of fires and the virulence of the flames.

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Ontario Government Minister of Natural Resources and Forests Greg Rickford expressed in a statement his appreciation “for the courageous efforts of Ontario’s wildland firefighters and all the people who support their efforts to keep northern communities safe.”

In British Columbia, 258 fires were still active this Saturday, 17 less than on Friday, when at the beginning of the week the figure was just over 300.

Similarly, in Ontario, the number of fires had dropped to 153, 13 fewer than 24 hours earlier. In both cases, the reduction in fires is the result of the arrival of colder air and in the case of Ontario, of rainfall, but thousands of people have had to be evacuated, or will be evacuated in the next few hours, due to the threat, especially in indigenous communities. And the smoke, which is spreading over large areas of the country, is also causing both visibility and respiratory problems.

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