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Local NPWS firefighter home from Canada

A Grafton-based firefighter was among a group 35 National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) specialist firefighters who returned home recently from British Columbia, Canada, where they have been helping to fight wildfires for the past 5 weeks.

NPWS Director Russell Madeley said this was the first time ground-based remote area firefighters have been deployed overseas, to help with over 1200 fires that have so far burnt more than 1 million hectares.

“Peter LeBreton, along with fellow north coast firefighters Peter Ellem (Dorrigo), Andrew Pitzen (Dorrigo), Tom Denman (Coffs Harbour), Joshua Bennett (Coffs Harbour), fulfilled important leadership roles on the fire ground.

“Peter worked on high priority fires in the Caribou region, assisting their Canadian colleagues with a wide range fire containment operations.

“The NPWS crews worked alongside fire fighters from all Canadian provinces and other countries including Mexico and New Zealand.

“The NPWS team was part of the 139-strong NSW specialists and remote area firefighters deployed under the NSW cooperative firefighting arrangements, with NSW Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW and the Forestry Corporation of NSW,” Mr Madeley said.

The Australian and Canadian Governments have a long-standing arrangement in place for the sharing of fire-fighting resources between the two countries.

This year saw the largest ever contingent of fire fighters sent to British Columbia. New South Wales sent crews from NPWS, Forestry Corporation and the Rural Fire Service.

The crews from the North Coast have returned home and have already been busy with local fires on the north coast.

The forecasts are for an above average fire season with extremely dry conditions on the north coast resulting in an early start to the bushfire season.