The Nature of Things·Video

B.C.'s elite crew of smokejumpers are trained to get to forest fires — fast

The secret to battling remote wildfires is getting to them before they’re bigger than a football field.

The secret to battling remote wildfires is getting to them before they’re bigger than a football field.

B.C.'s elite team of smokejumpers put out fires, fast: Wild Canadian Weather

2 years ago
Duration 3:03
"It’s not parachuting for fun; it’s parachuting for fire.” They parachute into remote forest fires to put them out before become difficult to contain.

Northern Canada has already warmed by 2.3 C triple the global average. With every degree rise in temperature, lightning strikes increase by 12 per cent while drier forests make the perfect kindling for more frequent and intense fires. Today, twice as much forest burns in Canada as it did in the 1970's.

The secret to fighting remote forest fires is to get to them early. B.C.'s smokejumpers are a specialized team that are deployed to get to new fires fast — by jumping out of planes to reach them.

"It's not parachuting for fun, it's parachuting for fire," says Tom Reinholdt, a veteran smokejumper. 

Flying over the forest at 160 kilometres an hour, Reinholdt determines the exact moment for the firefighters to jump by using coloured streamers, giving him an indication of the speed and direction of the wind. 

On his mark, they jump, and then the hard work of putting out fires begins. 

For the full story, watch the video above.

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