Wildfires in province well below average, Sask. firefighters off to B.C.

By Tyler Marr
July 10, 2017 - 5:34pm

It is a tale of two provinces when it comes to the story of wildfires in Canada.

Saskatchewan is faring quite well this season, with only 110 fires in the province to date, well below the five-year average of 308. 

According to Steve Roberts, executive director of wildfire management in the province, this is thanks in part to a wet, damp fall and early spring.

“It means we had very few lighting-caused fires. Most of the fires have been man-caused,” Roberts said during a wildfire teleconference update on Monday afternoon. The fires have been rather small, allowing crews to quickly contain any fires which have sparked up.

Currently, there is only one active wildfire in the province burning near the Île-à-la-Crosse area. Roberts said he did not expect to see a spike of fires in the near future despite the recent wave of heat, as it has brought severe weather along with it.

“We are only experiencing those (dry conditions) south of Saskatoon,” he said. “North of that, we are in moderate and low (hazards) and have been throughout the season.”

Currently, there are no fire bans in the province, though Roberts said some communities in the South were exploring the idea.


The low number of fires in Saskatchewan has freed up resources, granting management teams the ability to lend a hand in fighting the nearly 220 fires during in British Columbia. Wildfires there have forced more than 14,000 people from their homes in province's interior.

Saskatchewan has already sent two air tankers, a bird dog guide aircraft and a wildfire investigator to the area. On Monday morning, 50 pumps and 2,000 pieces of hose were dispatched to Chilliwack. 

Last Tuesday, Roberts said 20 firefighters and 16 overhead wildfire specialists were to be deployed near Kamloops.

Those picked to go to help in B.C. were selected based on a variety of skill sets. Some of the crews will be from the Buffalo Narrows, Stoney Rapids and Hudsons Bay area.

"We just put together a series of personal without depleting one whole area," Roberts said.

If B.C. has other needs down the road, they can make requests for additional equipment. Roberts said the provincial government will look at each request and consider if they are able to provide more resources at the time.

Crews will operate on a two-week rotation and aircraft are sent based on a 48-hour recall, meaning if the province has a sudden spike in fires, planes will be returned to Saskatchewan within two days.

Roberts said crews will face unique vegetation, tree species and steeper slopes in B.C. than here at home. But as teams in Saskatchewan are trained to a national standard, the province has the ability to exchange workers.


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