Amidst scorching sun rays, a contingent of 200 South African firefighters concluded their final training session on Tuesday before embarking on a journey to assist Canada in combatting unprecedented forest fires.
This altruistic act is a rare display of aid from a developing nation grappling with its own challenges as reported by Jacarandafm.
This group of firefighters constitutes the second batch being dispatched to the North American country, where approximately 17,800 square miles of forest have succumbed to flames since the beginning of the year, surpassing previous average figures due to climate change.
At the beginning of the previous week, the initial team of over 200 South African firefighters had already been deployed to Alberta, Canada’s province.
The decision to send aid was made in response to an urgent appeal from the Canadian forest fire agency, as confirmed by South Africa’s Ministry of Forestry and Environmental Affairs.
Over the past month, wildfires have erupted in almost every province of Canada, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau openly admitted that their resources were strained.
As a result, Canada has had to carefully manage its resources and seek assistance from abroad.
South Africa is just one of the countries extending a helping hand to Canada, alongside Australia, the United States, Mexico, New Zealand, France, Spain, and Portugal, all sending their own teams of firefighters.
In 2019, Canada and South Africa signed a memorandum of understanding, establishing a mutual agreement to support each other in emergencies related to veld and forest fires. Peter van der Merwe, a forestry scientist who will be leading the South African group, shared this information during an interview with AFP in the city of Mbombela, located in the eastern region of the country, where the team has been diligently preparing for their overseas mission.
The South African firefighters belong to an organisation called “Working on Fire,” which receives funding from the country’s Ministry of Environmental Affairs. The organisation focuses on recruiting and training unemployed individuals between the ages of 18 and 35 from areas prone to high fire incidents.
Named “Mzanzi Hotshots-2,” these highly skilled firefighters are set to depart for Edmonton, Canada, on Wednesday, equipped to lend their expertise in tackling the ongoing forest fires.
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