Prince of Wales thanks Canadian firefighters for battling record wildfires

Prince William thanks Canadian firefighters during video call (Kensington Palace/PA)
Prince William thanks Canadian firefighters during video call (Kensington Palace/PA) Prince William thanks Canadian firefighters during video call (Kensington Palace/PA)

The Prince of Wales has praised firefighters from across Canada for their efforts in tackling massive wildfires which swept the country earlier this year.

The country experienced its worst wildfire season on record, with approximately 18.5 million hectares burned by more than 6,500 fires which led to tens of thousands of people being evacuated from their homes.

William held a video phone call with representatives from the fire service from across the country.

Kim Connors, executive director of the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC), said on the call: “We broke all records this year from coast to coast. The hectares burned was over 18 million.

“We had to bring in international assistance from 12 countries on six continents. And it’s just unprecedented in the length of it and these people here today represent the front line of these fires. They were in this all summer long.”

Jabee Wu, fire crew leader at Wood Buffalo National Park, said: “It was nothing that I’ve seen in my entire career.

“I’ve been in the fire (service) for seven years now. And it was a lot. It was just really big fires, unmanageable fires. It was hard this year, because it hits so close to home – my town where I live was evacuated.

“So having the whole town leave and having that duty to serve and staying in the town was hard. Listening to everyone’s frantically pulling together to baton down the hatches there and just not being able to come back was really tough. (We) received a lot of things from everyone when they returned to town.”

William told the firefighters on the call: “Thank you so much, all you and all your teams for doing a tremendous job this season.

“Because frankly it must have been terrifying at times, you must have felt completely out of control – completely swamped, relying on each other, relying on the kit, the training you’ve done.

“You’ve clearly all pulled through and done a brilliant job and I only hope this is a one-off and you don’t have any more seasons like this for quite some time.

“Please stay safe look after each other and ultimately, thank you so much for the courage and the determination you’ve all shown to get yourself through the season.”