BC teams help fight 20 new fires

In the end, 44 British Columbia firefighters arrived just in the nick of time. The BC crews arrived Wednesday, bolstering Yukon firefighting teams…

In the end, 44 British Columbia firefighters arrived just in the nick of time.

The BC crews arrived Wednesday, bolstering Yukon firefighting teams just before 20 new lightning-caused fires started this weekend.

Today, 35 fires are burning throughout the Yukon.

“This is typically the time of year where we get plenty of lightning,” said George Maratos, wildland fire management’s information officer. “Right now we’re prepared for six to 10 new fire starts a day. Whether or not that pans out depends on Mother Nature.

“The new starts aren’t critical. They’re not an immediate threat.”

This week’s weather forecast calls for more cloud, scattered thundershowers and gusty winds.

The BC crews are expected to stay up to 19 days to assist territory crews in the middle of the wildfire season.

“We did expect some new activity with regard to the forecast and the already dry conditions, so we lined up resources from British Columbia to come up,” said Maratos.

“Once we’ve used all our resources, we start to look outside for help. (But) I wouldn’t say we’re stretched.”

Mayo and Carmacks districts are under a high and extreme danger rating, respectively.

Fires are not threatening any residences, communities or major resources, said Maratos.

However, three mining camps in the Upper Ladue area have been notified about a 4,500-hectare fire burning 14 kilometres from the sites.

Two new fires were spotted 20 kilometres west and 15 kilometres south of Carmacks late Sunday evening.

The fires are not threatening the community, but crews are fighting the fires, said Maratos.

Seven new fires were spotted in the Dawson City area over the weekend, including a 830-hectare fire 150 kilometres north of Dawson near the Dempster Highway, which, while remote, is still visible from the highway.

Dawson remains under a moderate danger rating.

Crews are targeting fires with the potential to grow into threats.

“The third week of June is when we typically see the most fires,” said Maratos.

There have been 50 fires this year. Last year at this time 35 fires were burning across the territory, down from 92 fires in 2005.

There are about 78 Yukon firefighters working in the territory.

In BC, wet and cool weather has kept the fire danger rating in the province at a low to moderate level, freeing provincial crews to move around the country.

Deployed crews, which include 339 staff currently in Quebec, can be recalled if conditions worsen.

The mutual aid resource sharing agreement has seen Yukon fire crews travel to BC, Quebec and the Unites States when fire conditions were not critical.

Most fires are spotted by the public. Report them by calling 1-888-798-3473.