Fires crews from Ontario, Alberta head to B.C. to battle wildfires

Fires crews from Ontario, Alberta head to B.C. to battle wildfires

13 June 2009

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Canada —

Firefighters from Ontario and Alberta have been called in to help B.C. crews battle wildfires in the tinder dry province.

The reinforcements include 60 firefighters from Ontario, who will be deployed to a fire near the Smith River on the B.C.-Yukon border.

“That particular fire is in a more remote area but there are several small communities that could be potentially at risk,” B.C. Forests Minister Pat Bell said Friday.

“So that’s the fire that we’re most concerned about. Those firefighters are working in a remote location, they’re quite tired and we haven’t been able to switch them out, so that’s what we’re looking at these additional resources for at this point.”

That blaze covers 205 square kilometres, has put about 60 people on evacuation alert and threatened the Alaska Highway.

A seven-man incident command team from Alberta also will be in British Columbia for two weeks, based in Salmon Arm.

It will be on standby to co-ordinate activity and supply logistics for big fire crews in the event of a so-called “large-project” wildfire, said fire information officer Lindsay Carnes of the Kamloops Fire Centre.

“They’re just there for preparedness right now,” she said. “Based on current fire-danger ratings and fire activity, if there was to be a large-project fire they would be available for us to use them.”

Meanwhile, crews were making gains against the province’s other major blaze, the Tyaughton Lake fire, which is burning 65 kilometres west of Lillooet and covers about 80 square kilometres.

“The fire is 50 per cent contained at this time along the southwestern and western flanks of the fire, as well as along highway 40,” fire information officer Mary Ann Leach said Friday. “It doesn’t pose an imminent threat of escaping in those areas at this time.”

The fire has spread eastward and dozens of people remained on evacuation alert while specialized structure-protection crews kept sprinklers wetting done homes threatened by the nearby blaze.

Dozens of people have been forced from their homes by the blaze and the fire is only 50 per cent contained.

A wildfire that sprang up west of Kamloops was quickly contained, but not before destroying a barn.

The fire erupted 12 kilometres west of Kamloops in the Cherry Creek area and grew to 3.5 hectares before it was corralled.

A lightning store went through the southern B.C. Interior on Thursday, with lightning strikes sparking most of the day’s 13 new fires. But they were quickly attacked and brought under control.

“None of them threatened any communities,” said Carnes.

The largest was a 2.8-hectare blaze near Oyama, in the south Okanagan.

Three helicopters and three aerial tankers made multiple runs over the fire, said Carnes, followed by firefighters who worked through the night to contain it. Crews now are moping up.

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