Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau pays tribute to a firefighter
Justin Trudeau has paid tribute to a young firefighter who died while battling a forest fire in British Columbia, as wildfires rage across the country and an extra 1,000 international firefighters are requested by the western province.
Devyn Gale, 19, was part of a team battling a fire outside the town of Revelstoke, about 310 miles north-east of Vancouver. A small fire had started in a remote area where she was clearing brush, according to the Revelstoke Royal Canadian Mounted Police. After losing contact with her team, she was discovered under a fallen tree.
Nolan Gale posted on Instagram yesterday that his sister Devyn Gale died after being struck by a tree while working a fire. She has done so much for me and others completely out of kindness without expecting anything in return. It was truly unfair to her.
She was a wonderful sister. Her kindness and thoughtfulness were truly admirable. Her head was in the best of hands between myself, my other sister, and myself. Her qualities were careful, considerate, and hardworking. The things she did were better and smarter than she gave herself credit for,” he wrote.
Growing up beside her has been a blessing to me. She has done so much for me and others out of kindness and without expecting anything in return.”
According to the police statement, the firefighter died from her injuries after being airlifted to the hospital.
On Friday, Trudeau tweeted: “The news from British Columbia – that one of the brave firefighters battling wildfires has lost her life – is heartbreaking. My deepest condolences go out to her family, her friends, and her fellow firefighters at this difficult time.”
In a statement, the British Columbia premier said the death was a “tremendous loss for everyone involved with the BC Wildfire Service”.
Canadian wildfire fighters are relatively safe from fatalities.
In 2015, a firefighter was killed when a falling tree struck him during a blaze on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. In a plane crash near Lytton, two air tanker pilots, Tim Whiting and Brian Tilley, died five years earlier.
Gale’s death “is a tragic reminder of the risks faced by our firefighters,” said Bill Blair, Canada’s minister of emergency preparedness.
In addition to fires raging throughout eastern Canada, wildfire emissions have reached record levels, marking Canada’s worst-ever wildfire season.
Bill Blair, the federal emergency preparedness minister, said on Friday that the Canadian military is being deployed in Quebec to assist with emergency evacuations.
Approximately 2,000 firefighters are battling more than 350 fires in British Columbia.
Fires have destroyed nearly 1.2 million hectares of forest in this province this year, far exceeding the 10-year average of 76,000 hectares. Authorities have requested an extra 1,000 international firefighters to help fight the blazes.
Many parts of British Columbia have been parched by lack of rain in recent months, which officials say is unprecedented for this time of year.
In a media briefing on Thursday, BC Wildfire’s director of provincial operations Cliff Chapman said hot weather will persist across much of the province and thunderstorms will likely cause more lightning strikes that will spark more fires.
Currently, there have been more fire starts than in previous years, Chapman said, adding that 51,000 lightning strikes have been recorded in the last week alone.