After two months battling forest fires in the bush, fire crews are exhausted and residents are responding to the call for help.
The N.W.T. Department of Environment and Natural Resources is holding courses in Fort Smith, N.W.T. to train new type 3 wildland fire crews. They will mop up wildfires, which means they'll maintain controlled areas and keep fires from re-igniting. The second course begins Friday and runs for four days.
Stefanie Miklosovic aced the fitness test to qualify for the course. Last summer she fought fires in British Columbia, working as part of a three-person, initial-attack crew.
"I've just been sitting at the edge of my desk every day, I just want to get out there and help," she says. "It's just really exciting to see what's going on, how hard everyone is working and get to be a part of it."
Miklosovic works for the territorial government and responded when the call went out for employees with experience to volunteer their skills. She jumped at the chance to help out in her home territory and isn't deterred by the long days.
"Working with a team and getting to be outdoors and working hard, it sounds like a lot of work but it's always really rewarding when you're done."
There are now about 150 type 3, or emergency firefighters, working in the territory. The new recruits will replace people when contracts expire. They will also be helping out at the camps set up for fire crews.
About 55 people volunteered to help in Yellowknife and Behchoko. For some, it's a chance to gain new skills.
"It's going to be good, a new experience," says Greg Dryneck of Behchoko. "Help out my community, I guess. There's lots of fire around Edzo."
Ndilo resident Maverick Kenny-Betsina says he's wanted to try firefighting for years.
"One of my cousins is working as a firefighter right now. He says there's a lot of hazards, a lot of danger out there you got to watch out for; split-second reactions you have to watch out for," he says. "I'm excited."
There was one training course this week in Fort Smith with a second starting this weekend. Volunteers chosen to participate must be prepared to camp in the bush for about three weeks.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources says if there's enough interest, there will be a third course starting Aug. 12.