Northeastern Ontario fire rangers to help counterparts in BC

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is sending 140 firefighting personnel, including fire rangers from Sudbury, Ont. to British Columbia to help their counterparts fight forest fires there.

Flight to leave MNRF hanger at Sudbury airport Tuesday afternoon

Firefighters take a breather while battling an out-of-control wildfire near Princeton, B.C. (Peter Scobie/CBC)

Firefighting personnel from Ontario, including Sudbury, are heading to British Columbia to help their counterparts fight forest fires that continue to spread across the interior of that province.

Residents from numerous BC communities have been forced to evacuate because of the fires.

More than 100 frontline fire rangers with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will leave this week from northern Ontario. Another 40 managers will join them for the deployment.

A group will fly out of the MNRF hanger at the Greater Sudbury airport Tuesday around 12:30 p.m.

"We'll have a plane fly out of Sudbury and then fly in to northwestern Ontario, pick up some more folks and continue on," says fire information officer Shayne McCool, with the MNRF's aviation forest fire and emergency services in the northeast region.

He adds the MNRF is still filling the specific positions for the personnel heading west.

This group will be deployed for up to 19 days, which McCool says is the work procedure for Ontario fire rangers. That is the amount of time they can work before they must be rotated out with a new group of fire rangers.

The Ontario personnel will be debriefed once they arrive in BC, and will find out where they will be stationed for suppression efforts, says McCool.

"They'll be brought up to speed on the information they need for the incident they're responding too. That said, we can't determine whether or not all 140 people will be in one area or whether they'll be utilized throughout the province. That will be completely up to the agency in need."

He says the Ontario fire rangers will then get to work to contain flames.

"Our forest firefighters would typically surround a fire. So in other words, we work from the perimeter on the outside of the fire and work towards the centre and try to contain it that way."

McCool says water pumps and hoses are also being sent from Ontario to be used to help extinguish the BC fires.

Fire risk in Ontario assessed; resources available

The ministry has assessed the wildfire risk in Ontario and has resources on hand to help BC, says McCool.

"With the fire season that we're seeing here in Ontario, at this time we're seeing lower than normal fire activity. So that has enabled us to send some resources to British Columbia, while maintaining the resources we need in order to respond to forest fires that should occur here."

Ontario's Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Kathryn McGarry, issued a statement Monday about the efforts to send resources to British Columbia:  

"At this time, support includes over 100 frontline firefighters. While the exact locations are still being determined, firefighters will deployed from across Ontario. Ontario coordinates alongside other provinces through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, and is always ready to share expertise and resources with other jurisdictions.
The ministry has assessed Ontario's wildland fire risk and has the resources at hand to ensure the necessary assistance for communities should we start to experience an escalating situation here in Ontario.  Across this country, our forests play an incredibly important role in the health and biodiversity of our communities and in the climate change mitigation of our planet.
Our thoughts are with the people of British Columbia and with the emergency responders who are working tirelessly day and night."