Pop singer Pink pledges $500,000 to help Australian firefighters battling bushfires


They will meet up with the rest of the 21-member Canadian contingent organized by the Winnipeg-based Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC).

Crews monitor fires and begin back burns in the Australian state of Victoria on January 2, 2020.

"I'm pretty anxious about it" admitted Smith.

"We're pretty darn proud to be representing Manitoba and Canada over there", he said.

"I know we've needed help in the past and it's just nice to return the favour", Rob Anderson, an air attack officer from Rocky Mountain House, told CTV News Edmonton while waiting for his departing flight at the Edmonton International Airport. Australia is just starting its summer season.

Smoke from wildfires shrouds a road near Moruya, Australia, on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020.

Two Manitobans, Geoffrey Smith, and Trevor Tetrault are heading to Australia to help with the ongoing wildfire situation.

In total, five Manitobans have been sent to support wildfire efforts.

Smith and Tetrault have been fighting fires for over 30-years. But the worldwide and inter-provincial nature of firefighting makes this mission a natural fit.

"When wildfires spread through our communities, Australia answered our call for help", he said.

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Despite 20 years experience - including during some of Alberta's largest wildfire events - Anderson was anticipating a fire fight unlike any he had seen before.

"We can end up [working] on a smaller, more manageable fire, or we can end up on one of the emergency-ranked fires that they're having right now".

In Victoria, where a state of disaster has been declared, there were evacuation recommendations for six fires, emergency warnings for another six, and dozens of others still burning. A third group of 17 firefighters were deployed to the state of Queensland on December 30.

While the Manitoba firefighters won't be on the front lines, they could be called on to assist the incident management team in command, aviation, planning, logistics or operations roles.

"It helped to have the support of the family, that was pretty big", said Smith.

Thousands of firefighters were battling nearly 200 blazes, many of them still burning out of control, in the southeastern states of New South Wales (NSW), Victoria and South Australia.

The death toll in the wildfire crisis is now up to 23 people.

"Albertans everywhere understand the threat of wildfire and what it's like to be evacuated, to be anxious about your home, to be in the state a lot of people in Australia are feeling right now", Tucker said, adding there was "no shortage" of volunteers to help. More than eight million more are under an emergency order.

"I've been kind of anxious about the trip, not knowing really what we're getting ourselves into", said Tetrault. "Adjusting to that kind of temperature is going to be definitely a challenge".