HELPING HAND: Matt Pope, Grafton District Manager for the Forestry Corporation of NSW, has returned from Canada after assisting with the wildfires.
HELPING HAND: Matt Pope, Grafton District Manager for the Forestry Corporation of NSW, has returned from Canada after assisting with the wildfires.

Local forester returns from fighting wildfires in Canada

MATT Pope, Grafton District Manager for the Forestry Corporation of NSW, has returned from Canada after assisting with raging wildfires in the south-west of the country.

Mr Pope joined the 100-strong contingent of Australian personnel deployed to help control more than 5000 wildfires in Canada this season. Three million hectares have been burnt so far, more than double the land area affected by fire in 2014.

Parliamentary Secretary for the North Coast and Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis congratulated Mr Pope for joining the fire fighting response team, which was made up of crews from throughout Australia as well as staff from the NSW Rural Fire Service, National Parks and Wildlife Service and Fire and Rescue NSW.

"The NSW contribution of 32 fire personnel was part of a contingent of 104 Australians sent to Canada to assist with the wildfire situation and included fire fighters from the Forestry Corporation," Mr Gulaptis said.

"Canada looked to Australia for assistance with devastating forest fires across British Columbia, Alberta and northern Saskatchewan and the Forestry Corporation responded, deploying four specialist fire fighters to contribute to the emergency response.

"As well as being skilled forest managers, ecologists, roading experts and more, Forestry Corporation staff are highly trained in fire fighting so these four qualified and experienced field commanders will bring valuable skills to the fire front to relieve local crews and help bring the blazes under control.

"Fire fighting is a difficult and dangerous task and I commend Mr Pope and all the crews involved for offering their willing support to our Canadian counterparts," he said.

Mr Pope said being part of an international emergency response was very rewarding, especially seeing fire in a completely different landscape and that the international effort helped Canada keep their wildfires under control.

Forestry Corporation is responsible for more than two million hectares of native and plantation forests and has been formally involved in fire fighting in NSW for almost 100 years.

Forestry Corporation also deployed fire fighters from Wauchope, Eden and Tumut as part of the combined fire fighting response.

Crews from Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania, Queensland, and South Australia flew into Vancouver, and then travelled to key areas that were affected in British Columbia and Alberta.

Emergency Management Victoria co-ordinated the deployment on behalf of all Australian states and territories.



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