A pyrocumulus cloud, also known as a fire cloud, forms in the sky as the Tremont Creek wildfire burns on the mountains above Ashcroft, B.C., on Friday, July 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. welcomes 100 firefighters from Mexico to help fight raging wildfires

VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s public safety minister heaped praise on 100 firefighters from Mexico who have just arrived in the province to work “shoulder to shoulder” with local crews battling hundreds of wildfires.

Mike Farnworth personally welcomed the firefighters when their plane arrived in Abbotsford on Saturday, telling reporters that he “cannot thank these men and women enough for answering our call for support.”

Farnworth says the firefighters would immediately undergo rapid COVID-19 testing, and then meet with B.C. wildfire officials before being sent to work.

He says they’ll be in the province fighting fires for 30 days.

The BC Wildfire Service says there are 258 wildfires currently burning in the province, which is down from 275 fires reported in its last update Friday, and down from about 300 earlier in the week.

But Farnwoth says the province continues to see “difficult fire behaviour and conditions throughout the central and southern Interior,” and that “challenging weather is forecast for the foreseeable future.”

There are nearly 60 evacuation orders in place in B.C., affecting nearly 5,000 properties.

There are 3,320 firefighters and other personnel working to fight the blazes, including 94 from out of province.