The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is scaling back its operations in support of the battle against wildfires in British Columbia, the Department of National Defence announced Monday.
With authorities assessing there is a reduced requirement for CAF support to provincial resources responding to the wildfires in the Okanagan region, aircraft and half of the Land Task Force committed to the emergency will redeploy back to their bases. Joint Task Force Pacific will maintain approximately 100 personnel consisting mostly of reservists from 38 Canadian Brigade Group, 39 Canadian Brigade Group and 41 Canadian Brigade Group to conduct mop-up operations in the Princeton area in continued support to this domestic operation.
“We are very proud of what our personnel have accomplished over the past weeks,” said Joint Task Force Pacific commander Rear-Admiral Bob Auchterlonie. “We consider it our duty and privilege to help Canadians in need. The safety and security of Canadians is our highest priority, so it is important for us to respond to the call for assistance whenever required.”
On Sept. 7, the B.C. government ended a state of emergency declared in August. As of last week, there were still 485 wildfires are burning in the province. To date, more than 1.3 million hectares have been burned in B.C.
During Operation Lentus, the CAF deployed Land Task Force which was made up of Regular and Reserve Force personnel from Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), 38 Canadian Brigade Group, 39 Canadian Brigade Group and 41 Canadian Brigade Group. The troops mopped-up approximately 1,000 hectares of land in the regions of Gottfriedsen Mountain, Juliet Creek, Harris Creek, Woodward Creek and Cool Creek. The CAF also shipped 105,500 pounds of freight, transported a total of 115 passengers, for a total of 202.2 flying hours. The Air Task Force conducted 49 sorties which included reconnaissance flights over fire-affected areas and movement of personnel and equipment.
At the peak of the crisis, the CAF’s contribution to emergency efforts consisted of one CH-146 Griffon helicopter, one CH-124 Sea King helicopter, and one CC-130J Hercules aircraft and approximately 420 CAF personnel consisting of mop-up crews, aircrew, aircraft maintainers, air movements personnel, liaison officers, and headquarters and support staff.
Corporal Alex Boutilier, a Traffic Technician from 19 Wing Comox, guides a truck from the Washington Department of Natural Resources onto scales to weigh it for air lifting to Prince George, British Columbia on a CC-130J Hercules in Abbotsford, BC on August 30, 2018 as part of Operation LENTUS 18-05.
Photo: Sergeant Andrew Davis, 19 Wing Comox