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NEWS RELEASE · 21st May 2010
Ministry of Forest and Range
British Columbia is sending 93 wildfire professionals to Ontario in anticipation of increased wildfire activity due to extreme fire conditions, Minister of Forests and Range Pat Bell said today.

"Last year, more than 2,500 personnel from across Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand assisted us with an extremely challenging fire season," said Bell. "Given the current conditions and wildfire situation in B.C., we are able to offer our resources to assist those who need our help at this time."

Thirty, three-person initial attack crews and three agency representatives will arrive in the city of Thunder Bay on Sunday, May 23 and will be deployed for up to 19 days.

Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources specifically requested initial attack crews for their expertise as highly mobile first responders. The crew members are being deployed from each of British Columbia's six fire centres. The three agency representatives act as the communication link between the crew members and Wildfire Management Branch personnel in B.C. They are being deployed from the Coastal, Kamloops and Southeast Fire Centres.

The fire danger rating is currently extreme across much of Ontario, with the risk building over the weekend. Dry conditions coupled with forecasted lightning could lead to a significant number of new fires. Ontario has already responded to 341 wildfires since April 1, burning over 2,200 hectares.

Costs for the deployment will be covered by the Government of Ontario under the Mutual Aid Resources Sharing Agreement, which allows for the sharing of firefighting resources across Canada.

Sufficient crews and equipment will remain in B.C. should fire activity increase here. Deployed personnel can be recalled at any time.

Since April 1, provincial fire crews have responded to 225 fires across British Columbia, only six of which were caused naturally. People are reminded to ensure they have the necessary tools on hand to extinguish any fires they light. Person-caused wildfires take critical resources away from naturally-occurring lightning fires.

This is the first deployment of British Columbia fire crews this year.

The public reports nearly half of all wildfires in B.C. Please continue to report smoke and flames by calling *5555 on mobile phones or 1-800 663-5555.