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Ottawa will deploy the Canadian Armed Forces to British Columbia to assist in fighting nearly 600 wildfires that have displaced thousands and put scores more on evacuation alert.

The B.C. government had issued a formal request for 200 self-sufficient personnel and aircraft to transport wildfire crews, equipment and evacuees. Ottawa responded Monday saying it had accepted the request and that resources will be made available.

“British Columbians can rest assured that help will be provided as soon as possible,” read a joint statement from Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.

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On Monday, at least 584 fires burned across B.C. – “not a record by any stretch of the imagination” but the most active fires at one time in the past few years, said Kevin Skrepnek, B.C.’s chief fire information officer.

active wildfire locations

As of August 13

british

columbia

alberta

Edmonton

Prince George

Haida

Gwaii

Calgary

Kamloops

Vancouver

Vancouver

Island

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: gov’t of b.c.

current active wildfire locations

As of August 13

british

columbia

alberta

As of August 13

Edmonton

Prince George

Haida

Gwaii

Calgary

Pacific Ocean

Kamloops

Vancouver

Vancouver

Island

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: gov’t of british columbia

current active wildfire locations

As of August 13

british

columbia

alberta

As of August 13

Edmonton

Prince George

Haida

Gwaii

Calgary

Pacific Ocean

Kamloops

Vancouver

Vancouver

Island

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: gov’t of british columbia

Most of those fires are in central and northwestern B.C., and most – roughly 500 – were caused by lightning. About 185 fires started over the weekend.

As of Monday, there were 27 evacuation orders affecting about 3,100 people (1,537 properties) and 43 evacuation alerts putting about 17,900 people (8,909 properties) on standby.

Under the supervision of the BC Wildfire Service, the 200 personnel requested will patrol contained fires and perform “mop-up” duties, ensuring flames from controlled burns have been fully extinguished.

Aircraft will be used to reposition wildfire crews and equipment, as well as for emergency transport of injured personnel and evacuees from remote communities if regular evacuation routes are compromised.

The troops will join more than 3,400 personnel currently fighting wildfires in B.C., including BC Wildfire crews, contractors, municipal firefighters and out-of-province crews from across Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.

The fires have blanketed the province in a haze of smoke, triggering air quality advisories that have reached Vancouver Island, Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and parts of Alberta.

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B.C.’s Air Quality Health Index, which ranges from 1 (low risk) to 10+ (very high risk), on Monday recorded Prince George, Williams Lake, Kamloops, Castlegar, and north, central and south Okanagan as 10+.

Mr. Skrepnek called the smoke a “double-edged sword,” affecting aircraft visibility and making it difficult to detect new fires, but also cooling off much of the province and trapping moisture closer to the ground.

The province has spent $207-million fighting wildfires since the beginning of the season in April.

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