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65 Idaho firefighters currently deployed to fight Canadian wildfires

As 427 active wildfires burn across Canada, the United States has deployed resources out of the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.

BOISE, Idaho — As 427 active wildfires torch tends of thousands of square miles across Canada, firefighters from the United States - including Idaho - have been deployed to the north.

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) is the country's support system for wildfires. Headquarter in Boise, eight different agencies collaborate through the center. 

"The beauty about the National Interagency Fire Center is that all the agencies come together, all the land management agencies come together. We all have a response to do wildfire suppression." Candy Stevenson, external affairs specialist for NIFC said. "It doesn't matter what agency you work for, when you're trained as a firefighter or support personnel, the training is the same across all the agencies. You can respond anywhere across the country - or in this case, internationally."

Currently, 283 federal firefighters and support personal from 14 crews are deployed in Canada.

Idaho firefighters make up a chunk of that numbers. Of the wildland firefighters deployed to Canada, 24 are from the Boise Hotshot Crew, 22 are from the Idaho City Hotshot Crew, and 19 firefighters are from the Snake River Hotshots. Idaho has also sent 4 overhead crew.

"Those overhead positions are not firefighters, they give support personnel," Stevenson said. "It could be safety officer and logistics people."

The Unites States has agreements in place with Canada and other countries to provide wildfire resources if needed, and vice-versa.

"It does come up from time to time," Stevenson said. "Back in 2019 and 2020, we provided a lot of resources to Australia to help out with the brush fires there."

Canada moved to Preparedness Level 5 in May, the highest level on a scale that indicated their need for wildfire resources. 

In addition to federal resources deployed by NIFC, there are also state compacts - groups that mobile fire response between states. The Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Compact has sent state resources to assist with wildfires in Canada.  

In a statement released Thursday, President Biden said he "directed the National Interagency Fire Center to respond promptly to Canadian requests for additional firefighters and fire suppression assets such as air tankers."

In that statement, Biden said that more than 600 U.S. firefighters, support personal, and firefighting assets have been deployed to Canada since May.

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