CBC: Seven more Alberta firefighters sent to fight Australia’s fires

‘I think the call for help is something that resonates with a lot of Alberta firefighters’

Emily Rendell-Watson · CBC News · Posted: Jan 04, 2020 9:14 PM MT | Last Updated: January 4

Specialists in air attack, fire behaviour and operations are among the Albertans who will join the teams already on the ground in Australia. (Manuel Carrillos Avalos/CBC)

Seven more firefighters from Alberta Wildfire left on Saturday to help battle the intense fires in Australia. 

By Monday, 34 Alberta firefighters will have been deployed since Dec. 3.

“I definitely feel proud to represent Alberta and Canada,” said Rob Anderson, a wildfire air attack officer with Alberta Wildfire. “All I can do is rely on my past training and experience and be confident that I can do the job.” 

Anderson, who is headed to New South Wales for 38 days, is no stranger to large blazes. He worked on the Fort McMurray fire in 2016 and the Slave Lake fire in 2011, coordinating airspace and water bombing the flames. 

“I know they’re going through a tough time so I’m just going to do my best to have some empathy,” said Anderson. 

As of Saturday, 23 people have died and more than five million hectares have burned due to the widespread fires.

Read more at CBC.ca …

CBC: As wildfires grow, so too does anger at Australia PM’s handling of crisis

Scott Morrison criticized for slow response, previous remarks on climate change

The Associated Press · Posted: Jan 05, 2020 3:36 PM ET | Last Updated: January 5

A firefighting helicopter is seen behind Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison during his visit to HMAS Albatross in Nowra, New South Wales, Australia, on Sunday. (Lukas Coch/Pool/via Reuters)

Cooling temperatures and calmer winds brought some relief Sunday to Australian communities raked by wildfires, but the heat stayed on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to accept responsibility for the crisis and take action.

“There has been a lot of blame being thrown around,” Morrison said at a news conference. “And now is the time to focus on the response that is being made. … Blame doesn’t help anybody at this time and over-analysis of these things is not a productive exercise.”

Morrison announced Saturday that he would dispatch 3,000 army, navy and air force reservists to help battle the fires. He also committed $20 million Australian ($18 million Cdn) to lease fire-fighting aircraft from overseas.

But the moves did little to tamp down the criticism that he had been slow to act, even as he has downplayed the need for his government to address climate change, which experts say played a key role in supercharging the blazes.

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CBC: Searing temperatures, strong winds complicate Australia wildfire battle

Government announces call-up of army reservists to support firefighters

Thomson Reuters · Posted: Jan 03, 2020 9:49 AM ET | Last Updated: January 3

Firefighters tackle a wildfire near Batemans Bay in New South Wales, Australia, on Friday. Firefighters were set for a dangerous day on Saturday as fires in New South Wales and Victoria states were expected to burn uncontrollably due to temperatures above 40 C and shifting, strong winds. (Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images)

Bushfires were burning dangerously out of control on Australia’s east coast on Saturday, fuelled by soaring temperatures and strong winds that had firefighters battling to save lives and property.

Authorities have said conditions could be worse than New Year’s Eve on Tuesday, when out-of-control fires forced thousands of residents and summer vacationers to seek refuge on beaches as the flames burned massive tracts of land.

The government announced an unprecedented call-up of army reservists to support firefighters as well other resources including a third navy ship equipped for disaster and humanitarian relief.

“Conditions beginning to deteriorate quickly on NSW (New South Wales) southern firegrounds,” the Bureau of Meteorology said in a tweet.

“Heat and wind are building which is increasing fire activity.”

In South Australia, two people died on Kangaroo Island, a popular holiday spot not far off the coast, taking the national fire toll this week to 12. Twenty-one people remain unaccounted for in Victoria, down from 28 reported missing Friday.

Read more at cbc.ca …