Mexican wildfire fighters head home from B.C. as weather conditions temper flames

Dozens of Mexican firefighters are heading home after coming to the aid of B.C. crews on the front lines of blistering wildfires that consumed much of the province’s Interior.

The B.C. Wildfire Service says 98 Mexican wildfire and three support personnel will be boarding planes home over the weekend as wildfire conditions improve and the number of ground crews continues to decline.

“Having such well-trained and determined and focused members on the ground is really a huge support,” said Jean Strong, a fire information officer with the service. “The Mexican crews are highly disciplined and very helpful to have alongside our crews on the ground.”

Strong says they made substantial contributions to fighting fires in the Okanagan, including the Nk’Mip Creek wildfire which is now under control and no longer considered a wildfire of note.

Mexican crews supported wildfire efforts in much of the southern part of the province. (B.C. Wildfire Service)

“They’ll be flying home this weekend for some well deserved sleep,” she added.

As for other help from out of province, Australian crews left B.C. two weeks ago, while the armed forces left on Sept. 5.

As of Tuesday, there were about 2,500 firefighters and other personnel on the ground. Nearly 8,700 square kilometres have burned.

Season trending in right direction

There are 210 active wildfires in B.C., including eight of note threatening properties or communities.

“For most of the season, we’ve been in double digits for fires of note, and a lot of those bigger fires are being moved to being held or even under control status. So we’re certainly starting to see the fruits of our labour.”

Nearly 870,000 hectares of land have burned during the 2021 B.C. wildfire season. (B.C. Wildfire Service)

Strong says cooler, wet weather has enabled crews to make progress on the front lines.

Campfire bans have been lifted across much of the province.

“There’s definitely a sense of relief. We’re not fully out of the woods and there is still a significant amount of work to do in terms of wrapping up, especially those bigger fires. But we’re not seeing that really aggressive growth in fire behaviour that we had for much of the season,” said Strong.

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