The Yukon government is sending $25,000 and 40 pumps to B.C. to help with firefighting efforts. (Twitter/BCGovFireInfo)

Yukon sending money, firefighting equipment to wildfire-stricken British Columbia

Yukon government will donate $25k, while Whitehorse is mulling its own contribution

By Jackie Hong

The Yukon is sending money and firefighting equipment down to British Columbia to aid the province in its fight against wildfires raging across the Interior.

The Yukon government will donate $25,000 to the Canadian Red Cross, which is supporting tens of thousands of B.C. residents displaced by the fire. The territorial government will also be sending down 40 pumps to help with firefighting efforts, Premier Sandy Silver announced in Edmonton July 17.

Silver was in Edmonton for the 2017 summer meeting of the Council of the Federation.

“Our hearts go out to the people of British Columbia in the wake of these worsening fires,” Silver said in a statement. “It is important in times like these that we come forward to help our friends and neighbours.”

British Columbia declared a state of emergency due to the wildfires July 7, appealing for firefighting help from other provinces and territories. As of midnight Tuesday, there were 122 wildfires burning across the province.

Although Yukon Wildland Fire Management said earlier in July that it didn’t have any resources to spare for British Columbia, fire information officer George Maratos said Tuesday that the wildfire situation in the Yukon has “started to moderate” to the point that the Yukon can now free up equipment.

“We’ve seen a drop in temperatures and precipitation in the areas where we had a number of active fires, and now our fire danger rating is low across the territory,” Maratos said, adding that the 40 pumps, which he called an “important firefighting tool,” were to be shipped off to British Columbia July 18.

However, Maratos noted that even though the fire danger rating across the territory is now low, 61 fires were still burning in the Yukon as of Tuesday morning, meaning Wildland Fire Management won’t be sending firefighters down to British Columbia quite yet.

The Yukon has seen 84 fires so far this season, with the bulk of the activity concentrated in the north. The Old Crow district alone has seen close to 30 fires so far.

British Columbia helped the Yukon fight some of those blazes earlier in the season, Maratos added.

“In late June and early July we had firefighters from British Columbia in Dawson providing support,” he said. “They were a huge assistance to us.”

The City of Whitehorse may soon be contributing to the British Columbia wildfire fight too. Coun. Dan Boyd said during a standing committee meeting at City Hall Monday he would like to see city council make a “contribution similar to what we (donated to) Fort McMurray last year.”

Whitehorse city council donated $5,000 to the Canadian Red Cross in 2016 to aid with relief efforts for the devastating fire in Fort McMurray.

With files from Lori Garrison

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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