Skyrocketing temperatures across the province over the B.C. Day long weekend caused the danger for forest fires to skyrocket as well, causing the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch to request the assistance of more out of province personnel to help fight the growing forest fires across the province.
Last week an additional 70 plus firefighting personnel from Ontario and Quebec were flown into B.C., including an incident management team and support staff.
An incident management team is composed of highly trained and specialized personnel with experience in wild land fire management, and they provide command and coordination support at fire response camps.
According to Environment Canada, daytime highs reached 30.5 C in Burns Lake, 29.3 C in Prince George, 34.4 C in Kelowna and an astounding 36.5 C in Kamloops on the Sunday of B.C. Day weekend.
The high temperatures throughout the province have caused forest fire fuels to become extremely dry and to ignite easy.
The fire danger rating for most areas in the province have reached ‘extreme’ or ‘high’ due to the hot, dry weather conditions, which means new fires can start easily and spread rapidly.
In addition to the out of province firefighting personnel that has been brought in, the province has also increased its air tanker capacity, too.
An Electra L-188 air tanker has been brought in on a short-term contract and is stationed in Penticton.
An air tanker group from Alberta has arrived in Prince George.
This group consists of four CL-215T amphibious skimmers, one bird dog aircraft and an air attack officer, who has both knowledge of on the ground and air attack firefighting techniques and who will direct air tankers to the most effective and safe suppression locations.
The requests for additional assistance were made through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre.
Any costs associated with these requests will be covered by B.C.
The province has already spent $106 million fighting fires in the province, and it’s expected that number will reach $250 million by the end of the summer.
The additional personnel and resources join the already 1600 provincial staff, 930 B.C. contractors, 500 plus out of province personnel and eight air tankers already engaged in fire suppression efforts around the province.
In total, the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources has responded to 1036 wildfires in B.C. so far this season, with 12 active forest fires burning within the boundaries of the Prince George, Kamloops, Southeast and Northwest Fire Centres.
In addition to the out of province help that B.C. has requested, it was announced on Aug. 6 that a group of specialized wildfire personnel would be flying in from Australia to help with the fire fighting efforts.
Approximately 80 firefighters arrived in Vancouver Aug. 8-11, including two, type one incident management teams, consisting of 10 firefighters each, incident commanders, fire behaviour specialists, aircraft coordinators and support staff.
B.C. has a resource sharing agreement in place with the State of Victoria which allows for the exchanging of personnel, knowledge, skills, equipment and technology in case of an emergency.
As with the out of province personnel being flown in, B.C. will cover the costs of bringing in the Australians.
“The high number of active wildfires in the province is stretching our firefighting resources,” Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources said, “We are grateful for the assistance we will be receiving from the Australian State of Victoria.”
To report a wildfire or unattended campfire call toll free at 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 from a cellphone.