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Central Saanich firefighters answer call to fight Fort St. John wildfire

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The Central Saanich Fire Department has sent two experienced firefighters and a water tender to the Fort St. John area to help crews working to extinguish the Stoddart Creek fire burning in northeastern B.C.

The fire department’s chief says he got the call from the Prince George Fire Centre on May 14. He said the emergency operations centre asked the Saanich Peninsula community to send one of its water tenders trucks.

"We were able to scramble a crew on short notice," said Chief Kenn Mount. "We normally get called for structural defence type work so they’ll likely become part of a strike team or a task force that will be doing water shuttle operations."

Mount says it is very early in the season to get a call from the province for firefighting resources.

The Stoddart Creek fire is estimated to be more than 13,000 hectares and is considered out of control.

Mount says the department is sending one of its senior fire captains and an experienced firefighter to crew the tender.

“They have the training and qualifications to go,” said Mount. “Now we’re in the mode of preparing more members because they will probably go on a 14-day deployment.”

Mount says once the firefighters arrive in the Fort St. John area they will be self-sufficient for the first 48 to 72 hours. He says he expects they will be living in camps and working long hours.

“If these type of conditions and weather are maintained we’ll likely be swapping out crews in a couple of weeks,” he added.

Mount says supporting B.C. firefighters battling wildfires is a reciprocal exchange in which the department has actively participated.

“We tend to rely on our neighbours quite a bit with mutual-aid agreements but sometimes larger scale incidents require resources from the province,” said Mount. “The time could come at some point where departments we’re helping are coming to help us."

Mount says he expects the Central Saanich firefighters to arrive in the Fort St. John area on Tuesday.

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