About 100 elite U.S. firefighters help battle Alberta wildfires
Published Wednesday, June 5, 2019 2:01PM MDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 5, 2019 6:33PM MDT
About 100 of the best firefighters in the United States arrived in Edmonton Wednesday morning.
They’re part of five elite hotshot crews from Montana ready to help battle the wildfires raging across parts of northern Alberta.
“Highly organized, very skilled, lots of experience and very dependable and efficient firefighting force,” said Shawn Borgen, superintendent of the Flathead Hotshot crew.
“It’s a team effort, you know, and we’re honoured to be here. Thanks for having us and we’re bringing the finest assets we have in the lower 48 to help out.”
He said there has been an agreement between the U.S. and Canadian governments for many years. This is his third time helping firefighters in Canada.
“The crews pretty commonly come back and forth and we host Canadian firefighters down there with fairly high frequency,” Borgen said.
“The majority of the western US, specifically is fairly wet and so that’s freeing up flexibility for us to come north and help you guys out.”
Crews arrived with their own line packs which they use to carry supplies to the front lines.
“We’ll be issued saw teams, sawing equipment and hand tools here and I think that’s in an effort to save on the weight for the air transport,” said Borgen.
It’s not yet clear where the hotshot crews will be deployed but Alberta Wildfire said they will be used to relieve some of the crews currently on the front lines.
The hotshot crews will work alongside Canadian firefighters for 14 days—a stay that could be extended to 21 days, if needed.