OTTAWA — The Canadian military has deployed helicopters and transport planes in response to the raging wildfire that has incinerated parts of Fort McMurray — with more support to come as needed.
Four CH-146 Griffon helicopters are en route to perform evacuations in surroundings communities under threat from the raging blaze.
Additionally, a C-130J Hercules has been moved to the nearby military airfield in Cold Lake, with a C-17 Globemaster heavy-lift transport on standby to aid in the movement of firefighters and equipment.
Brig.-Gen. Wayne Eyre, who is in charge of the 3rd Canadian Division and the military commander for Western Canada, calls it a “dynamic” situation and planners are looking ahead at what kind of requests could come next.
He says the Alberta government is expected to formally ask other provinces and northern U.S. states for help in fighting the fire and the air force could play a role in getting crews to where they are needed.
Eyre says the Hercules is suited for landing on remote roads and could be employed getting firefighters into isolated locations.
At the moment, no ground troops — either regular or reserve forces — have been deployed, but Eyre is not ruling it out.
The army deployed up to 2,300 troops in to Alberta in June 2013 to battle severe floods in the western portion of the province, where they cleared debris and built berms to keep the water back in Canmore, High River and Red Deer.
Last year, troops were sent in to Saskatchewan to help battle wildfires.