NEWS RELEASE · 30th May 2010
Ministry of Forest and Range
British Columbia is sending an additional 157 wildfire professionals and firefighting equipment to Ontario and Québec to help with increasingly challenging wildfire activity.
Twenty-seven three-person initial attack crews, eight division supervisors, two fire behaviour analysts and three agency representatives will arrive in the city of Thunder Bay on Sunday, May 30, and will be deployed for up to 19 days. The 94 individuals will join the 81 B.C. initial attack firefighters and three agency representatives already deployed to the area.
Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources requested initial attack crews for their expertise in quickly containing small and new fires. The fire behaviour analysts will work with fire centres and incident management teams assessing and forecasting fire behaviour to help determine fire management tactics. Division supervisors will be deployed to supervise and determine tactical decisions on large geographic areas of larger fires.
The fire danger rating is currently extreme across much of Ontario with the risk continuing to build. The province is currently fighting 66 active fires with 32 reported as not under control. Ontario's largest fire, Red Lake Fire 32, has burned 4,000 hectares. So far this season, 453 wildfires have burned over 10,000 hectares in that province.
Three twenty-person unit crews, three task force leaders and additional firefighting equipment will also arrive in the town of Maniwaki, Québec on Monday, May 31. The 63 individuals will join the 130 B.C. personnel already deployed to the area. The sustained-action unit crews will help contain larger fires while task force leaders will work under division supervisors to determine wildfire management tactics on sections of large fires. The B.C. Wildfire Management Branch is also supplying 115 pump kits and over 350,000 metres of hose.
Québec is currently experiencing extreme fire conditions with some wildfires impacting communities. Nine fires are listed as out of the control, the largest of which has burned nearly 25,000 hectares.
Costs for the deployments will be covered by the governments of Ontario and Québec under the Mutual Aid Resources Sharing Agreement, which allows for the sharing of firefighting resources across Canada. This is the fourth and fifth deployment of British Columbia fire crews this year.
The Wildfire Management Branch maintains sufficient capacity in B.C. to respond to any fires in this province. Nineteen sustained-action unit crews and 76 initial attack crews remain in the province. Current cool conditions allow the Province to continue to support other jurisdictions with challenging fire seasons. Deployed personnel can be recalled at any time.
Since April 1, provincial fire crews have responded to 234 fires across British Columbia, all but six of which were human-caused and therefore preventable. The public is reminded to ensure they have the necessary tools on hand to extinguish any fires they light. Open fire prohibitions are in effect in many jurisdictions.
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.