Following up on our story from May 23 when Canada requested 200 firefighters from the United States, the order was filled today when the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) mobilized 10 hand crews to assist with the Fort McMurray fire in Canada. Five of the crews flew on a Canadian aircraft out of NIFC in Boise, Idaho, at 9:15 a.m. and another five departed from Missoula, Montana. The crews are comprised of Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildland firefighters.
In addition, 300 firefighters from South Africa will also assist the Canadians.
“We have a bilateral firefighting assistance agreement with the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, which works well when either country is in need of wildland fire suppression resources. Canada has assisted the U.S. many times in the past, so as soon as Canada requested assistance, we quickly accommodated their request,” says Dan Buckley, NIFC’s National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group Chair.
On May 10, the U.S. mobilized two heavy air tankers and a lead plane to assist with wildfires in Canada. The tankers, based out of Bemidji, Minnesota, flew retardant to wildfires in the Ontario province for one day. In the last 5 years, the U.S. has supported Canada twice. In 2015, NIFC mobilized 200 firefighters and one heavy air tanker and in 2010, 30 smokejumpers and one Type 2 Initial attack crew were sent to Quebec.
Conversely, Canada has provided support for wildfires in the U.S. For each of the last five years, the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) mobilized fire managers, large air tankers, smokejumpers and wildland fire crews.