B.C. sends eighth wave of forest firefighters to Ontario

Black Saturday arson accused found to be mentally unfit for trial

09 August 2011

published by www.theage.com.au

Canada — Midway through the slowest forest fire season in a decade, B.C. has deployed another 56 firefighters to help battle blazes across Ontario.

“They were calling upon us because they were expecting an increase in lightning-caused fires,” said Alyson Couch, a B.C. fire information officer, onSaturday.

“We’ve been sending a significant amount of our crews out east to help, but we also need to keep sufficient resources here in B.C.”

In the past three weeks, 759 personnel have been sent out in eight waves. The latest crews were set to depart Saturday, joining 240 others already working to fight fires across northern Ontario.

Firefighters typically stay on their out-of-province assignments for up to 19 days, but can be recalled at any time if B.C. fires flare up.

That could still happen this summer if temperatures remain warm, Couch said. Until now, the low number of fires has been one of the few upsides to the dreary summer.

“We’ve seen cooler and wetter conditions throughout most of the province. The weather is the No. 1 indicator of how forest fires will burn,” she said.

Last year at this time, crews had already battled around 1,000 blazes. Currently, the number sits at just under 300. All but one, which ripped through 11,000 hectares in the province’s northwest, were relatively small.

“It’s certainly possible we could be heading into a busy August. It’s hard for us to predict,” Couch said. “It’s not over yet.”

To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, call *5555 on a cellphone or 1-800-663-5555. More info on B.C. fires here: www.bcforestfireinfo.gov.bc.ca.

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