Quebec firefighters to head to Australia to help battle blazes

In this image released and dated on Jan. 6, 2020, from Australian Department of Defence, plant operators Cpl. Duncan Keith and Sapper Ian Larner of the 22nd Engineer Regiment use a 434 backhoe to assist staff from Forestry Management Victoria to clear fire damaged trees from the great Alpine road between Bairnsdale and Omeo during Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20 in Bairnsdale, Victoria, Australia. Australia's government on Monday said it was willing to pay “whatever it takes” to help communities recover from deadly wildfires that have ravaged the country. (Department of Defence via AP)

Quebec forest firefighters will head Down Under next week to help their Australian counterparts battle the multiple blazes devastating the nation.

SOPFEU (Société de protection des forêts contre le feu) is sending 20 forest firefighters and three forest fire management specialists to join more than 40 firefighters and specialists across Canada to help combat the fires raging across Australia.

Twenty-seven specialists will leave Jan. 16, and the SOPFEU firefighters will work with 20 from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) leaving from Vancouver to Australia Jan. 19. The crews will be in Australia for 31 days.

Canada has sent 95 forest fire management specialists to New South Wales since Dec. 3, and those being sent next week will head to the State of Victoria.

The cooperative effort is a partnership between the departments of Natural Resouces Canada and Emergency Management Australia.

The Quebec firefighters are training at the University of Laval in Quebec City.