SA firefighters welcomed back from Canada

A third group of Working on Fire firefighters returned to the country this week, after helping out for more than a month.

The Working on Fire Kishugu Joint Venture has welcomed its firefighters who were helping during ‘the worst fire season’ in Canada.

The third group (Mzansi 3) consisting of 215 firefighters arrived back in the country this week after 33 days of hard work abroad.

Nomsa Mahlangu is one of the firefighters from Vaal Marina base who was deployed twice to Canada to battle the infernos.

‘‘I really missed my usual meal that is pap and meat. I couldn’t wait to lay my hands on the pap at the airport when we arrived at Kruger National Park.”

She said the Canadians treated them very well and that this gave them encouragement to do more in their mission.

‘‘I did not get tired because it is a stress-free environment,’’ explained Mahlangu, adding that it was interesting to work side by side with internationally seasoned firefighters.

“This was one of the learning experiences of a lifetime. The effects of climate change can clearly be felt especially with a firestorm of this magnitude, which pulled out some of the leading firefighters across the world to one of the worst fire seasons in Canada’s history.”

An estimate of 14 million hectares was burned during this fire season.

Mahlangu had never seen such massive and large-scale fires like the ones in Canada. She said that the crew displayed selflessness and gallantry to the rest of the world as SA firefighters.

“At times I missed my kids. I had to remember that [the] Canadians needed more help than my kids. Their lives and environment are at risk,’’ Mahlangu said.

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