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VANCOUVER – WestJet and Air Canada are offering more flexible flight options for passengers booked to fly in or out of some cities in B.C., where hundreds of wildfires have sparked a state of emergency.
WestJet passengers scheduled to travel to or from Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton, Prince George or Terrace until Aug. 22 can cancel or rebook their flights without a penalty fee, the Calgary-based airline said Thursday.
Air Canada tickets for flights up until Aug. 22 heading in or out of six cities in the B.C. interior can be changed to another date before Sept. 1. free of charge, the Montreal-based airline said.
The B.C. government declared a state of emergency Wednesday in response to more than 500 fires that have burned through the province’s firefighting capacity and triggered international support.
Firefighters from Australia, New Zealand and Mexico are now taking part in the fight.
Ottawa announced Monday it would deploy 200 soldiers and several aircraft to help battle the fires, which have prompted evacuation orders covering more than 1,500 properties and affecting about 3,000 people.
Canadian Forces personnel joined the 3,400 firefighters already fighting the summer infernos. About 150 new fires ignited across B.C. last weekend, according to the B.C. government.
The state of emergency applies to the entire province and ensures federal, provincial and local resources can be delivered in a co-ordinated manner, B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said Wednesday.
But humans can only do so much to douse the flames, he said.
“The best thing we can hope for is a change in weather: winds to blow smoke away, a good old-fashioned drenching of rain to extinguish fires and improve air quality,” Farnworth said.
More than 1,800 forest fires have been recorded since the season began on April 1, charring nearly 3,800-square kilometres of timber and bush, the wildfire service said.