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Posted: July 7, 2015

Ontario firefighters B.C. bound

Due to elevated wildfire activity in British Columbia, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson was able to confirm that 70 personnel will be arriving from Ontario to assist with B.C.’s firefighting efforts.

Sixty-three sustained-action firefighters and seven other specialized personnel from Ontario will arrive in Abbotsford and Cranbrook today (July 7). They will be deployed throughout the Coastal Fire Centre and Southeast Fire Centre, based on current fire activity and projected need.

In addition, two amphibious skimming aircraft, one birddog aircraft and an air attack officer from Ontario will arrive in Kamloops today.

These requests for assistance were made through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, which co-ordinates the mutual sharing of firefighting resources between B.C. and other Canadian jurisdictions. Costs associated with these requests will be covered by B.C. under the Mutual Aid Resources Sharing Agreement, which allows for the movement of firefighting resources throughout Canada, an Emergency Management BC press release explained.

“Because wildfire activity is increasing throughout the province, our firefighting capacity is becoming challenged. We are very grateful for the help we are receiving from our partners in Ontario,” stated Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson.

There were 23 new fires in B.C. yesterday. The Province is cautioning all British Columbians to be diligent with fire safety and report all wildfires to authorities. There are now 184 active fires within the province (of these, 18 are active fires of note), with eight evacuation alerts/orders currently in effect.

The BC Wildfire Service has responded to 887 wildfires so far this season. As of July 7, approximately 40 homes in the province were on Evacuation Order with approximately 920 homes on Evacuation Alert. These numbers will fluctuate as orders and alerts are put into place and/or rescinded.

Evacuation Orders currently exist in the following areas:

* Boulder Creek Wildfire, northwest of Pemberton Meadows;

* Sechelt Mine fire, issued for Carlson Point, affecting 18 homes;

* One home in Harrogate, north of Highway 95 north of Brisco.

Evacuation Alerts exist in these areas:

RDEK Baynes Lake area fire* East of Lake Koocanusa, east of Baynes Lake and Highway 93;

* Harrogate, north of Highway 95, between Harrogate and Brisco;

* Tsulquate Creek Fire, northwest of Port Hardy;

* Sitkum Creek Fire, north of Kootenay Lake, between Sitkum and Duhamel Creeks;

* Petitot River fire, northeast of Fort Nelson;

For all current Evacuation Alerts and Orders in B.C., see:

Martin Mars water bomber update

Government has a standing offer in place that allows for use of the Martin Mars water bomber in certain circumstances. B.C. is required to give Coulson Group three days’ notice to use the Mars. It is currently not available for government’s use from July 20 to July 31.

Due to its size, the Mars water bomber can land only on and scoop up water from about 113 bodies of water in B.C., as opposed to the 1,700 lakes that the skimmers currently in use can access. The Martin Mars cannot drop long-term fire retardant, which is critical in B.C.’s terrain and firefighting conditions as fire retardant slows the growth of wildfires and allows ground crews to safely contain them.

For more information on the Martin Mars and B.C.’s airtanker fleet, see:

Penalties for open burning

Failure to abide by the Wildfire Act, including open burning restrictions, can result in a $345 fine, an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, a fine of up to $100,000 and/or one year in jail.

As a result of the continued extreme and high fire danger ratings in regions throughout B.C., fire bans have been implemented around the province, including the “Fog Zone” on the western coast of Vancouver Island, effective at noon on Wednesday, July 8. The use of fireworks is prohibited.


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