Province better equipped for busy wildfire season

By Juliet Kadzviti
April 19, 2016 - 3:35pm

A busy wildfire season is officially underway in Saskatchewan, with nine new fires this month, bringing the total to 18.

Steve Roberts, executive director of the wildfire program of Saskatchewan said the department is more equipped to deal with wildfires this year in comparison to 2015, when over 600 wildfires burned throughout the province.

Over 1,700 personnel were deployed and the total cost to fight the fires came to over $100 million.

“After last year’s fire season and fire review, we’ve secured some more equipment, some more radio pumps and hoses, so we will have that already in stockpile in the warehouse for use if we need that. So we are as prepared and a little bit farther ahead than we were last year,” Roberts said.

Six of the province's fires remain active, mostly in the Buffalo Narrows area. At this time last year, Roberts said there were 25 fires on the books.

Eight more fire crews have been added in northern communities, along with two CV580 air tankers that will be deployed when required, Roberts said. To prepare for this year's season, crews began their training two weeks ago.

“This will put us at better response capacity to get to fires early and get them out quickly before they become larger,” he said.

Roberts said the province is slightly drier in most areas than it was last year, and temperatures are currently hovering around the 20 Celsius mark.

“Currently, Saskatchewan is in spring fire conditions, what that means is our fine grass-type fuels are dry, primarily wind driven, drying those out. The forest areas are still wet and in many cases, snow-covered,” he added.

He said most active fires are person-caused and advises anyone starting a fire to do so with caution.

As the season progresses more crews from other northern communities will be receiving training as necessary.

-with files from Nigel Maxwell

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Twitter: @julietkadzviti  

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