Nfld. & Labrador

Firefighters, water bomber loaned to battle Saskatchewan wildfires

As crew members work to keep forest fires in Labrador under control, some personnel are being loaned to northern Saskatchewan to help battle over 100 wildfires that have enveloped large swaths of land in the region.
Over 100 wildfires are burning in north Saskatchewan, producing smoke which has been seen as far south as Tennessee. (Saskatchewan Highways)

As crew members work to keep forest fires in Labrador under control, some personnel are being loaned to northern Saskatchewan to help battle over 100 wildfires that have enveloped large swaths of land in the region.

A team of seven firefighters and a single water bomber are on loan to Saskatchewan from Newfoundland and Labrador to help stop the flames.

Newfoundland and Labrador Fire Duty Officer Eric Earle said all the provinces and territories in the country are members of a organization for sharing assets to fight forest fires.

"There is an agreement where we share resources," he told CBC's Labrador Morning.

"We were confident that we had adequate forest fire resources available in the province, so we sent seven firefighters yesterday and we actually sent one of our water bombers to Saskatchewan as well."

Earle said sharing personnel and equipment is something that is beneficial for both provinces.

"Many of these firefighters end up getting some valued experience, and our pilots as well," he said.

"It's a win-win situation, not only do we get to benefit from experience, but we get to help another province as well."

Labrador fires burning but not threatening communities

While the situation in western Canada is much more intense, there are still a number of fires burning in Labrador that are being closely watched.

The province has identified 14 active forest fires in the region as of Friday morning, with 23 reported in total so far the season.

In this submitted photo taken from a commercial flight, a forest fire is seen burning in a remote area of western Labrador. (Submitted by Dave Bartlett)

Earle said officials believe most of the fires have been caused by lightning strikes, which can sometimes take two or three days to develop into a full blown forest fires.

Luckily for residents in Labrador, most of the fires are remote and are not threatening what are called 'values' — or communities or other infrastructure.

Only in a a few cases have they even had to send in water bombers to get the flames under control, such was the case near Natuashish.

"We were concerned about one near Natuashish, located five kilometres from the airstrip," said Earle.

"We dispatched a water bomber from Goose Bay and it was able to knock the fire down fairly quickly and reduce the risk of spreading."

Earle said they find out about most of the fires through tips from the public. He said anyone who wants to report a forest fire is asked to call toll-free number 1-866-709-FIRE (3473).

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