Yukoner in Australia to help deal with growing wildfires

'It's pretty overwhelming and fairly humbling, the situation that's going on,' says Linda Brandvold, who's in Australia helping emergency crews in a planning role.

'It's pretty overwhelming and fairly humbling, the situation that's going on,' says Linda Brandvold

In this Tuesday image from video, smoke from wildfires covers Batehaven, near Batemans Bay, New South Wales, Australia. Thousands of tourists fled Australia's wildfire-ravaged eastern coast on Thursday ahead of worsening conditions. (Josh Aldwell/The Associated Press)

Linda Brandvold calls it a "fairly desperate situation."

The Yukon woman is currently in the town of Batemans Bay, Australia, helping emergency crews there deal with the devastating wildfires spreading across the country.

"It's pretty overwhelming and fairly humbling, the situation that's going on," she said.

"The area that I'm actually staying in had been hit, and we were without power for about two days."

Linda Brandvold, a regional assistant with Yukon Wildland Fire Management, is in Australia to help with fire fighting efforts there. (Submitted by Linda Brandvold)

Brandvold is a regional finance and administration assistant for Yukon Wildland Fire Management, and in Australia she's helping out in a planning role.

"So most of what that entails is using their systems that are updating frequently on fire situations, and getting that information out into the head office in Sydney. And a lot of that information also goes out to the local media," she said.

"[Yukon] Wildland Fire Management is quite supportive of the efforts in Australia, and they're quite happy to be able to send somebody down here."

Brandvold left Canada on Dec. 19, and spent her first week and a half on the north coast of New South Wales before moving down to Batemans Bay, south of Sydney, earlier this week.

Batemans Bay is a popular holiday spot on the New South Wales south coast, but many people have heeded directives to leave the area before the weekend.

This image shows the locations of ongoing wildfires in southeastern Australia on Thursday.

Brandvold says she's not in any immediate danger. She said Thursday there was a sense of "normality" in Batemans Bay since the power's come back on.

"But the smoke is quite heavy. There is a lot of people that are walking with scarves over their faces, just to sort of prevent some of that smoke inhalation."

Brandvold says emergency crews are doing the best they can, by rotating workers to avoid fatigue.

"They've been at this for a long time. So everybody is quite tired," she said.

Brandvold says the weather forecast doesn't appear to offer any potential for relief. She says it's expected to be hot and dry until February.

Brandvold heads home to Whitehorse later this month.


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