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Australians begin journey home from Canadian wildfires

30 July 2015

Forty-eight Australian emergency personnel will return from Canada this weekend after assisting with the wildfire situation in the south-west of the country.

The Australian crews have been part of the international effort to battle more than 5,000 wildfires in Canada this season. Three million hectares have been burnt so far, more than double the land area affected by fire in 2014.

Returning personnel were based in five different locations across Alberta and have spent the past two weeks fulfilling a variety of specialist leadership roles in incident management and aircraft support.

During their deployment, the Australians enjoyed the camaraderie and experience of working alongside an international contingent that included firefighters from South Africa, New Zealand, Mexico and the US.

While  sharing knowledge and techniques with their Canadian and international counterparts was a highlight,  the Aussies also reported a few brushes with local wildlife, spotting beaver dams and bears while out in the field.

Returning personnel  include: Victoria (9), New South Wales (24), Western Australia (7), Australian Capital Territory (4), Tasmania (3) and Queensland (1).  They will land at Sydney Airport on Sunday 2 August shortly after 6am, with non-NSW crews transferring to onward flights home.

Fifty-five Australian emergency services personnel remain behind to continue to offer assistance with the fires in British Columbia.

British Columbia’s relationship with Australia in sharing firefighting resources has been in place for over 15 years. This agreement allows for the exchange of personnel, knowledge, skills, equipment, technology and mutual support in the event of an emergency.