British Columbia

B.C. fires: Ontario firefighters coming in to help fight wildfires

Firefighters from Ontario are being brought in to help fight the more than 180 wildfires burning in B.C. right now, said B.C. Forests Minister Steve Thomson.

All available crews, including contractors, are already engaged as fires continue to grow

Steve Thomson said all available firefighters in B.C. are already working, making it difficult to take on the growing number of fires without reinforcements. (CBC)

Firefighters from Ontario are being brought in to help fight the more than 180 wildfires burning in B.C. right now, said B.C. Forests Minister Steve Thomson.

The extra crews are required because all B.C. firefighters, including 622 contractors, are already engaged across the province, said wildfire officials.

"We are stretched. We have critical resource issues, and we need all the support of the public" to avoid causing more fires, Thomson said.

He implored smokers to avoid throwing butts out the window and ATV riders to avoid tinder-dry areas.

Hundreds more firefighters needed

All available B.C. firefighters are already working on the more than 180 fires throughout the province, said Forests Minister Steve Thomson. (Mike McArthur/CBC News)

The Ontario contingent arriving Tuesday includes 60 "sustained action" firefighters and 10 specialists. They will be deployed where needed, Thomson said.

B.C. also has requests in for 290 more firefighters, including crews from Australia and New Zealand.

The minister said they may be sent to other provinces needing help, such as Alberta or Saskatchewan, as the resources are coordinated nationwide.

"The availability of resources is at a critical level. Any increase in fire load will be difficult to manage," said Kurtis Isfeld of the B.C. Wildfire Service.

30 new fires each day

The fire danger remains high to extreme throughout B.C., with another 23 fires sparked since Monday.

Wildfire officials are expecting 30 new fires will start each day for the foreseeable future, due to low precipitation and high temperatures that aren't cooling off at night.

Unable to throw resources at every fire, officials are prioritizing the ones that threaten human safety, property and critical habitat, said Isfeld.

A retired wildfire management branch official said it's not the number of fires that's the significant factor — but how they behave.

"This includes how intense the fires are burning ... you're getting some erratic fire behaviour so that makes control of them difficult," said Mel Dunleavey, who now owns Mustang Wildfire Services in Quesnel.

Here is a map of the active fires in B.C.

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