Environment

Four NWT wildfire specialists heading to help Australia


Four of the Northwest Territories’ wildfire specialists are being sent to Australia this week as the country faces its worst wildfires in decades.

Australia’s wildfires have burned an estimated 10 million hectares of bush, forest, and parks since the nation’s fire season began in late July, with at least 28 people killed and thousands of homes destroyed.

On Tuesday, the NWT government named four of the territory’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources personnel who will travel to assist efforts to combat the fires.

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They are air support group supervisor Marlon Labach, resource unit leader Raelene Lamalice, air tanker base manager Spencer Porter, and aerial observer Jonathan Williams.

The quartet will join experts from across Canada sent to help Australian wildfire crews earlier this month.

“They will be departing on January 16 and 17, 2020, from Vancouver, BC, and are expected to be deployed for a total of 30 days,” said the territorial government in a statement.

“The GNWT is proud to be part of the Canadian contingent supporting the wildfire response in Australia.

“Northerners understand the dangers of wildfire and the devastation they can cause. Every year our communities are impacted by wildfire, and the NWT has recently experienced several challenging fire seasons.”

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The NWT’s 2014 wildfire season, considered the most severe in the territory’s history, burned a little over three million hectares of land by some estimates – roughly a third of the area currently consumed by Australia’s fires this season.

“We wish our staff all the best,” the territorial government said in its statement, adding: “Work hard and stay safe.”

Emelie Peacock contributed reporting.

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