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Elite Nova Scotia firefighters to battle wildfires burning across B.C.

Last Updated Jul 17, 2017 at 2:00 pm PDT

HALIFAX – A group of elite Nova Scotia firefighters will join the front lines battling wildfires burning across British Columbia.

Twenty highly-trained firefighters and a manager will board a chartered plane in Halifax that is transporting firefighters from across the region to Kamloops and Prince George in the British Columbia interior on Tuesday.

Jim Rudderham, forest protection operations manager for Nova Scotia, said the “Type 1” firefighters have passed rigorous physical fitness and skills training tests.

“They are upper level firefighters,” he said. “They volunteer for this and they’re up to the task.”

The crew, made up of 19 men and one woman, will likely be assigned to “hold the line” on a fire to stop it from spreading, Rudderham said.

“They will be on the ground working,” he said. “They’ll try to make sure the fire doesn’t spread or create a new line by cutting around the edge of the fire to put it out.”

While heavy air tankers will attack the blaze from above, ground crews will be using hand tools to painstakingly smother the fire with dirt and remove anything that could fuel the fire.

“It’s hot and dusty and it’s labour intensive,” Rudderham said. “That’s why they’re Type 1 firefighters and they’re trained to meet the physical demands of the job.”

The crew will work 12-hour shifts for 14 days straight in dangerous conditions that can quickly shift.

Natural Resources Minister Margaret Miller is expected to address the 20 firefighters and manager before they depart Tuesday morning.