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Firefighters from across Canada help peers in B.C. and Alberta blazes

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  • RspctFrmCalgary
    oooppppsss forgot the link sorry


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  • Firefighters from across Canada help peers in B.C. and Alberta blazes

    I came across a gov't website that lists all the fires in Alberta and stats like how they were started, status, size, resources being used etc. There's also a remarks area that lists all the resources being lent and borrowed from across the country. Its a great site if you want to get the real info instead of the "media" info.


    VANCOUVER (CP) - A national agency's massive co-ordination effort to send firefighters and aircraft to battle B.C. and Alberta blazes is working with help from rainy weather in Ontario.

    The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre in Winnipeg serves as an inter-provincial resource broker for the transfer of personnel, water bombers and equipment such as power pumps during the wildfire season. Spokesman Dave Bokovay said American firefighters are busy waging war against forest fires in the midwest and wouldn't be able to help their northern neighbours, including British Columbia.

    "They've got nothing to lend," Bokovay said.

    While Canada will also not be able to lend a hand to the U.S. effort, it's faring well so far with the number of firefighters who are coming to the aid of their colleagues in other provinces.

    "The co-operation across the country is pretty impressive to see," he said. "People from Nova Scotia (are) in Alberta and people from New Brunswick are in B.C. They've come all the way across the country.

    "It's really encouraging to see that it's not politically motivated or regionally based, that firefighters are firefighters and they feel for their peers across the country.

    "Every agency's been in the situation that B.C. is in at one time or another and they're doing their best to help out."

    British Columbia is currently in the throes of its worst wildfire season in 50 years.

    Late last week, about 10,000 people in south-central B.C. around Kamloops were forced to flee their homes with whatever belongings they could grab as flames from three fast-moving wildfires came perilously close.

    About 4,000 residents of Rayleigh and Heffley Creek, near Kamloops, spent several nights in emergency centres before being allowed to return home Tuesday. They remained on evacuation alert.

    Another 3,500 British Columbians were still in limbo, many wondering if their homes are still standing.

    Meanwhile, many of the 2,000 firefighters who have been battling three major blazes and over 300 smaller fires in British Columbia for almost 14 days straight are exhausted and need to be replaced this week.

    "We're looking at some plans to make sure that we have people to take over from these folks that have been on the line now for almost two weeks," Bokovay said.

    About 470 firefighters from other provinces - mostly Ontario - are currently working in British Columbia. They're joined by 113 soldiers from Edmonton.

    Ontario reported 22 fires, mostly in relatively unpopulated northern parts of the province.

    British Columbia and Alberta, where tinder-dry forests are being hit hardest by fires caused by lightning strikes and careless people, have also borrowed 19 aircraft from Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and the Yukon.

    Unlike Ontario, both B.C. and Alberta won't be getting major rainfall soon to lend firefighters a helping hand, said Brian Robilliard, weather forecaster for Environment Canada's Pacific Weather Centre.

    While cooler temperatures and clouds were forecast for later Tuesday, the "double-edge sword" is that thunder storms with lightning could also develop, along with gusty winds that could fan the flames, Robilliard said.

    The thunder storms will move into Washington state by Wednesday via southern British Columbia, into the Kootenays and the Okanagan, but dodge Kamloops, where most of the fire activity is centred.

    Alberta's weather forecast is similar, but with a bit of moisture in the extreme southern part of the province where thunderstorms are forecast for Wednesday.

    "Even in the midterm, it's not looking all that great," Robilliard said of southwestern Alberta, where fires have driven 2,000 people from their homes.

    "What (B.C. and Alberta) want is rain and they're not going to get that in the foreseeable future anyway."

    The Canadian Press, 2003

    08/5/2003 18:44 EST

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