Yukon air tankers help fight BC fires

Four Yukon fire-prevention aircraft have answered the call to protect parched northern BC forests from a potential slate of weekend fires.

Four Yukon fire-prevention aircraft have answered the call to protect parched northern BC forests from a potential slate of weekend fires.

The aircraft, which are part of the Whitehorse-based Firecats airtanker group, arrived in Prince George last Monday night, said a release from Yukon wildlands fire management.

“We’re looking at the possibility of elevated fire activity, maybe this weekend or the coming week, so we’ve asked if the Yukon can assist our preparations for that,” said BC Forest Service spokesperson Kim Steinbart.

Fire risk throughout the Yukon remains at a ‘low’ rating, except Old Crow, which has been rated ‘moderate’.

Since April, British Columbia fire crews have responded to 762 fires throughout the province. Yukon fire crews have only responded to 53 wildfires.

Stable fire conditions have left Yukon crews relatively flexible in responding to out-of-territory fires. In late June, the Firecats responded to assistance calls from near Fort St. John.

“You guys are up there drowning in rain, and we are seeing some hot temperatures coming in the next little while — so we’re just amping up our resources for that,” said Steinbart.

“We’re well below average this year,” said Yukon fire information officer George Maratos.

The Firecats can immediately return to Yukon service should local fire conditions heat up.

“Under the (resource sharing) agreement, we can recall them with 24 hours notice,” said Maratos.

Six British Columbia air tankers had been assisting in quelling the record-setting fires raging throughout California.

As of Tuesday, increasing fire risk has forced BC to recall three of those tankers for domestic service.

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