Region's firefighters return home from fighting Canadian wildfires

A GROUP of locals has returned home from fighting wild fires that tore through 1.1 million hectares of Canadian bushland last month, with a swag of new techniques under their belts. 

NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Tamworth City duty captain Brent King was one of 40 RFS specialist-trained crew from across the state deployed to Canada in August.

The crew, alongside local National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) personnel, spent five weeks battling a 190,000-hectare fire at Elephant Hill, based in the town of Clinton in British Columbia.

The crews did two 14-day stints, working up to 14 hours each day, before returning home this week.

“It’s completely different to back home,” Mr King said.

“It’s a lot steeper there, and has completely different vegetation types.

“It was all pine terrain. It was very dry, with no moisture in the ground.

“We were working alongside crews from New Zealand, America and Canada.”

Mr King said it was interesting to see the different firefighting techniques used, with crews pumping all their water from creeks and streams from hundreds of metres away.

Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the NPWS team of 34 was part of the 139-strong NSW specialists and remote area fire crew who joined the firefighting operation in Canada.

“These crews helped control some of the more the 1200 fires which had affected approximately 1.1 million hectares of British Columbia,” she said.

“I am glad for their safe return and am extremely proud of our world-renowned fire experts who were working side-by-side to support Canadian authorities to contain the emergency wildfire situation.

“The NPWS officers included aviation specialists and fire ground commanders as well remote area firefighters who were working on foot in the remote rugged regions of British Columbia.”

Among the local NPWS team are Neil Reckord (Armidale), Nathan Clarke (Forbes), Joel Hatch (Narrabri) and Mark Crisp (Glen Innes).