While the cooler, wetter weather has created fewer forest fires for local firefighters to deal with, Ontario is requesting crews to help out with their fire season.
B.C. is sending a total of 361 individuals from the Wildfire Management Branch to Ontario, consisting of 30 initial attack crews, ten 20-person unit crews, two incident management teams, five division supervisors and agency representatives. Ten will be three-person initial attack crews from the Prince George Fire Centre, two of which will be from the Vanderhoof area fire zone. There will also be one initial attack crew and one unit crew going from Burns Lake.
The first crews were shipped out on Tuesday, July 12, as part of the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre agreement which allows provinces to share resources.
All of the additional costs of the B.C. crews will be paid for by the province of Ontario. The crews can be deployed for up to 19 days and they can be recalled at any time should B.C. require them back.
There are, however, still crews around, with one initial attack crew still in Burns Lake to action any fire starts there, another in Houston, two in Vanderhoof, two more in Prince George and as well there are a number of the twenty-person unit crews available to action larger fires or help out with initial attack should the need arise.
Last season, with the large number of fires in British Columbia, Ontario sent many of their crews over to help out later in the year, when our province needed additional manpower, and some of our crews had been to Ontario earlier in the 2010 season.
While B.C. crews have not had a very busy season yet locally, they have already been requested to assist Alaska, the Yukon and Alberta.
But even with the wet and cool weather, people are reminded to still be careful with fire and not to leave campfires unattended.
Forest fire protection costs the province millions each year and almost half of those are human-caused fires and therefore preventable.
While in 2005, a slower fire season, the cost to the province was only $50 million, in 2009, a very active season, costs soared to $388 million. Last year’s fires cost $218 million.