Province Backs Down on Fire Cache Closures

Wednesday, April 07, 2004 at 14:58



The provincial government has apparently changed its mind about some of the changes it was planning to make in forest fire management.


Northern leaders and MLAs had been pushing the Environment department to reconsider its plan to close down 6 fire caches, as announced in last week’s budget.


Northern Affairs minister Buckley Belanger says those fire caches will still be reclassified as staging areas, but the people manning most of those bases will no longer be transferred to other centres.


The government’s change of heart means the planned job transfers out of Ile-a-la-Crosse, La Loche, Cumberland House and Wollaston Lake have been scrapped, but the transfers out of the Pinehouse and Uranium City fire caches will still go ahead.


Northern leaders also wanted the province to broaden the radius around communities that would trigger the highest response from firefighters.


Under its new policy, that radius was supposed to be 10 kilometres. But now, Environment minister David Forbes says it has been expanded to 20 kilometres.


The province has said that any fires outside those zones and that are not threatening commercial interests will likely be allowed to burn this summer.


Forbes will be travelling to northern Saskatchewan in the next couple of weeks to further discuss this issue with northern leaders.