Firefighters work hard to contain the 545-hectare wildfire at East Shuswap Road. Twitter/BC Wildfire Service photo

Northwest firefighters deployed to eastern Canada

They will help with fire suppression efforts in Ontario and Quebec.

A total of 23 firefighters from the Northwest Fire Centre were deployed to Ontario and Quebec last week to help with firefighting efforts in those provinces.

Parts of eastern Canada have been dealing with an unusually brutal wildfire season this summer.

The northeastern Ontario community of Temagami has been put on evacuation alert, while other residents around the region have been already been forced out of their homes after lighting-caused fires blew up faster than expected. Another 60 or so active fires were burning across Quebec last week.

One initial attack crew made up of three firefighters was deployed on July 9 to Ontario, while a unit crew made up of 20 firefighters was deployed on July 11 to Quebec.

According to Kyla Fraser, fire information officer for the B.C. Wildfire Service, the agency cannot specify which communities these firefighters were deployed from due to privacy concerns. The firefighters can be deployed for a maximum of 19 days; however, they can be recalled at any time.

The B.C. Wildfire Service said it was confident B.C. had enough resources to deal with its current wildfires.

Smithers fire chief Keith Stacko said last week the town’s fire department is available but hasn’t been requested by the Province for deployment.

Telkwa fire chief Laurence Turney said his department is available to be deployed but it hasn’t been called on yet.

Last week fire information officer Carolyn Bartos said the Northwest Fire Centre was not expecting a lot of wildfire activity due to recent precipitation throughout the region.

“However, we are going into a drying trend and will be preparing for a higher level of activity due to the warmer weather coming our way into next week,” she said last Thursday. “We maintain our levels of preparedness by studying forecasts which will give us a good idea of what to expect in the short term.”

The Northwest Fire Centre had a total of 56 wildfires to date, as of last Thursday. This compares with 32 wildfires during the same period last year.

The Province wanted to help Ontario and Quebec because of the “invaluable assistance” they offered last year, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service, when more than a million hectares of forest burned across B.C. in its worst wildfire season on record.

READ MORE: 2017 now worst wildfire season in B.C.

The Province sent a total of 204 firefighting personnel to eastern Canada last week. When they arrive, the B.C. personnel will be deployed as needed in each province to assist with the firefighting situation.

Initial attack firefighters are usually the first on scene of a new wildfire. Once there, the initial attack crew works quickly to set up water pumps, remove fuel from the fire’s path and dig fireguards to help control or extinguish the blaze.

Unit crews typically work on large fires, and can remain self-sufficient in the field for up to 72 hours at a time. Crew members receive extensive training and are knowledgeable about wildfire behaviour, fire management tactics and fireline equipment use.

The request for assistance was made through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, which co-ordinates the mutual sharing of firefighting resources between B.C. and other jurisdictions.

All associated costs will be covered by the jurisdiction that requested the resources.

With files from Michael Grace-Dacosta

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Northern Health ready for COVID-19 surge

Health authority confident with inventory of ventilators

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

The Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Province, feds reject Library-Art Gallery grant application

Project proponents adament the project is not dead, will seek alternative funding opportunities

Update from the medical community in Smithers, April 3rd, 2020

Local M.D.s grateful for public’s efforts during COVID-19 pandemic, urge continued vigilance

North District RCMP see massive spike in domestic calls

Connection to COVID-19 pandemic likely for reduced call volume, increased severity

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

How to cope with your mental health during a global pandemic

Becca Shears, clinical counsellor in Vanderhoof speaks about ways to deal with stress and anxiety during this time.

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Girl Guide cookies available at No Frills

The annual door-to-door sales campaign was cancelled due to COVID-19

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Most Read