Fire damage is seen in Mill City, Oregon on Saturday. Wildfires in the state have--so far--killed at least eight people, destroyed more than 1,000 homes and scorched more than 4,000 square kilometres. (The Associated Press/Gillian Flaccus)

Canadian firefighters head to Oregon to fight devastating wildfires

Canada is sending nearly 300 firefighters and technical specialists to help fight wildfires in Oregon, one of three U.S. West Coast states currently being ravaged by the blazes.

Some 40 to 50 “overhead personnel”–supervisors, specialists and technical experts–from Ontario, Manitoba, B.C. and Alberta left today.

Four firefighters from the BC Wildfire Service pose for a photo before their deployment to Oregon.  (Twitter/B.C. Wildfire Service)

Another 230 firefighters, mainly from British Columbia and Alberta, are leaving Friday, according to Edwin Gillis, fire centre manager with the Winnipeg-based Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre.

Alberta Wildfire tweeted Tuesday that 45 crew members would be dispatched to Oregon this week, but it wasn’t clear whether they were part of the national contingent.

Sixty firefighters from Quebec arrived two weeks ago to fight California’s North Complex blaze in California.

They have now returned home.

Firefighters with the Monitor Fire Department wait alongside the road surrounded by smoke in an area destroyed by a wildfire Saturday near Mill City, Ore. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Gillis told The Canadian Press that no other added resources are currently planned, but there could be more deployments depending on any specific arrangements that exist between states and the provinces.

The wildfires are currently raging across some 18,000 square kilometres in Oregon, California and Washington, laying waste to several small towns, destroying thousands of homes and killing at least 36 people.

The fires in Oregon have–so far–killed at least eight people, destroyed more than 1,000 homes and scorched more than 4,000 square kilometres.

Smoke from the fires is stretching thousands of kilometres across Canada and covering several provinces. 

And smoke has also reached parts of Europe.

A resident walks through his property, which was destroyed by a wildfire in Mill City on Saturday. (The Associated Press/ John Locher)

Canada, meanwhile, has seen a below-average number of wildfires this year because of cooler temperatures, wetter weather and COVID-19 restrictions. 

So far, there have been 3,621 wildfires that burned 235,124 hectares in 2020.

This compares to the 10-year average (to date) of 5,639 wildfires burning nearly 2.9 million hectares.

This winter, dozens of Canadian firefighters deployed to Australia to fight fires there.

With files from CBC News, The Canadian Press (James McCarten), RCI

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