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Working on Fire apologises to Canada for ‘an international incident’

300 South African firefighters on strike in Canada will be sent home in the next few days.

A group of South African firefighters have a break as they work to mop-up hot spots in an area close to Anzac, just outside of Fort McMurray, Alberta on June 2, 2016. Almost 300 South African firefighters started working to put out hot spots today near Fort McMurray. The pace of Fort McMurray residents' return to the wildfire-ravaged Canadian oil city accelerated, but continued to fall short of expectations. Authorities were prepared to welcome back as many as 40,000, more than double the previous day's count, but early indications suggested that the target would not be met. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Working on Fire has written to Canadian officials apologising for its firefighters causing "an international incident" for striking over a heated pay dispute.

Three hundred South African firefighters on strike in Canada will be sent home in the next few days, where they will face a disciplinary hearing.

The firefighters received a hero's welcome by Canadians last month but are now refusing to go out in the field in Fort McMurray to battle a wildfire due to the salary dispute.

Working on Fire CEO Johan Heine says the deployment to assist in fighting wildfires in Canada, which ended in a pay dispute, is not how the organisation does business - calling it a huge embarrassment.

"Working on Fire is a professional company. Internationally, we regularly deploy firefighters and this is the third incident that we have had."

He says the incident is a direct contradiction of company values.

"We apologise for embarrassing the Canadian city, authorities and the country as a whole with this international incident."

Heine says the organisation always discusses remuneration with firefighters and formal contracts are always signed before they leave.

But firefighters are angry they don't receive hourly rates instead of daily rates like their Canadian counter parts.