South African fire crews arrive in Alberta

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firefighters
South African firefighters are seen on a an Air Canada plane in Johannesburg, South Africa destined for Edmonton on Sunday May 29, 2016 in this handout photo. Air Canada is flying 300 firefighters from Johannesburg, South Africa to assist with Alberta wild fires. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-CNW Group/Air Canada-MANDATORY CREDIT

EDMONTON – Three hundred South African firefighters have arrived in Alberta to help battle wildfires raging in the province’s north.

An Air Canada jet picked them up in Johannesburg Sunday morning and landed in Edmonton late last night after refuelling in Barbados.

Kim Connors of the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre says the mobilization represents the largest group of wildland firefighters ever brought into Canada.

The Alberta government says the still out of control Fort McMurray fire is now estimated to cover almost 58-hundred square kilometres, and has crept into Saskatchewan.

Almost 2,300 firefighters are battling 14 active wildfires in Alberta.

The province says a phased re-entry of residents into Fort McMurray is still on track to begin on Wednesday.

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