A FIREFIGHTING crew from Terrace left for northern Ontario May 24 in response to a growing forest fire hazard in that region.
The 20-member unit crew called the Firebirds was joined by the Telkwa Rangers and both are to spend up to 19 days back east.
A third unit crew, this time from Burns Lake, left for Quebec May 26 in response to fire threats in that province.
Unit crews can spend up to 14 days on the fire line and there’s also travel time built in when they are sent outside of their area, said regional forest fire information officer Lindsay Carnes.
That leaves the northwest without any unit crews but all of the area’s three-member initial attack crews remain here, she said.
“We wouldn’t send a unit crew out to a new small fire anyway,” said Carnes.
“Our initial attack crews are trained to fight smaller fires.”
There are two initial attack crews in Terrace, two in Telkwa, two in Burns Lake and two in Houston. They’ll be taking turns spending one week in Dease Lake to maintain a presence up north.
Also sent back east are regional forest fire officials, including Rich Forget from Terrace, who’ll look after the unit crews and help manage overall firefighting efforts.
Carnes said the forest service can call in help from the Yukon if the situation warrants in the far north and can call in help from other areas of the province if needed.
As for the prospects of a busy fire season here, Carnes said much depends upon June’s weather.
“If we have a rainy June, the fuels won’t be as susceptible to burning when the hot, dry and windy weather comes in July and August,” she said.
“But if we have a very dry June, the combination of drier fuels and hot and windy weather can add to the conditions for fire.”
For now, Carnes continued, the large snowpack still in the mountains is helping.
“Certainly we don’t have an ongoing drought to start the season as we’ve had in previous years,” she said.
The forest service’s regional firefighting efforts are based in Smithers.