The international firefighting community is coming to Alberta’s aid and South Africa is leading the charge.
300 South African firefighters arrived in Edmonton on Sunday night from Johannesburg after a 22-hour flight that included a stop in Barbados for refueling and a crew change.
Air Canada transported the crews, the largest deployment of wildland firefighters ever brought into Canada, from O.R. Tambo International Airport on a Boeing 777-200LR aircraft with 17 crew members.
The flight, AC 7007, is the airline’s first ever to South Africa and the special trip required rescheduling of other flights to free up the aircraft, one of the largest available.
The newly arrived firefighters are members of a program called Working on Fire, which “recruits young men and women and trains them to implement a range of integrated fire management products and services, which includes fire management planning, fire detection, prevention, suppression and community fire awareness,” according to the program’s website.
Air Canada worked in partnership with the Alberta Government and the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) to coordinate the transport of the firefighters.
Also contributing to the international firefighting contingent is the United States, sending about 200 crews north of the border to assist Alberta Wild Fire in their ongoing efforts.