Forty-one Mexican firefighters have left the country to help fight the wildfires ravaging the Canadian province of Alberta.
The team was presented to the media in Guadalajara last Friday prior to their departure for Edmonton on Saturday.
Eighteen of the firefighters are from the state of Jalisco; the remainder come from 11 other Mexican states.
The work of the Mexican firefighters, some of whom have previous experience of fighting fires in Canada, will be coordinated by the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, with assistance from Mexico’s National Forestry Commission (Conafor).
The Fort McMurray wildfires, which have been raging through northern Alberta, Canada since May 1, are likely to be the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history, insurance experts say. The fires have consumed more than 1.4 million acres and devastated the Canadian oil city of Fort McMurray. Around 80,000 people have been displaced by the disaster.
According to local reports, as of last Monday, the wildfire was 70 percent contained, although it was still listed as out of control.
The Mexican firefighters will join international colleagues flying in from several other counties, including the United States and New Zealand. The biggest contingent of 301 comes from South Africa, although reports suggest a dispute over pay delayed the start of their activities last weekend.
The Mexican firefighters are expected to stay in Canada for around two weeks before returning home.
Noted Francis Uy, the Canadian Consul in Guadalajara: “Following up from the 62 Jalisco brigadistas/firefighters sent to combat the Alberta wildfires last year, we are truly appreciative of this group of firefighters coordinated by Conafor. Alberta and Jalisco have a long tradition of cooperation in training and providing support in this area, and this is an example of friends working together to help each other in times of need.”