Canada — Visitors to the new 3D theatre at Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre will experience the sights, sounds and smells of a forest fire complete with a spray of water to extinguish the blaze.
Wildfires! A Firefighting Adventure in 3D will open to the public on Saturday.
The attraction, produced in partnership with Science North, gives viewers a close-up look at how fires are created and controlled.
The fire footage in the film which stars Ministry of Natural Resources firefighters and pilots was taken in June during a big forest fire north of Sioux Lookout. During filming, the fire took a dramatic turn and began heading toward Pickle Lake. It went from an observed fire to a full-out suppression effort.
“The fire in this film was the biggest forest fire in Ontario in nearly a decade and the first big fire of the very active summer,” stated David Lickley, Science North’s director of large format films. “Not since 1922 have forest fires claimed as much area in the province.
“This was a massive fire, and we were very fortunate to be able to film at very close range the kinds of air and ground work firefighters do under extraordinary conditions.”
Mike Delfre, the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre’s executive director, said he hopes the theatre draws new and repeat visitors to the centre. It’s also part of the facility’s goal of expanding its aviation and forestry education programs.
“Right now, we are fairly focused on aviation, but airplanes are used for many things in the forest,” Delfre said.
For example, planes are used for mapping, forest inventory, fire detection and suppression, as well as measuring disease migration.
“This whole area will be redeveloped as we go to become more of a forest ecology exhibit,” Delfre said, as he stood outside the entrance to the new theatre.
The $550,000 theatre was paid for with funding from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Program.
The 23-seat theatre features 11 different special effects. Entry to the film is included in the price of admission to the Bushplane Centre. The facility now has three theatres, including Wings Over the North and the Ranger Theatre.
Located in the area of the new theatre is a new Fire Smart exhibit. This $20,000 project, which includes a mobile exhibit used in the summer, was funded by the Ministry of Natural Resources.
“What’s important to us is that people in the Sault see change and growth here,” Delfre said. “We want to start to be a better, bigger resource in the community for students and families.”
Science North in Sudbury also has the new Wildfires! attraction. Science North and the Bushplane Heritage Centre have shared knowledge, resources and expertise to launch the new attraction in both cities.
“The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre is excited to be again working with the tremendous creative team at Science North to develop Wildfires! A 3D Firefighting Adventure,” stated Hugh MacDonald, president of the Bushplane centre’s board of directors, in a press release. “The new theatre and its theme fit perfectly with our core offerings and our business plan. We totally support the regional joint development approach to pool talents and benefits for the North.”
The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the winter and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from mid-May to mid-October. Admission is $12 for adults, $11 for seniors, $7 for students, $3 for children and children under five get in free if accompanied by an adult.