Planes that are a part of firefighting aid to B.C. and Montana  photo courtesy Wildfire Management Branch

Saskatchewan is sending more firefighters and equipment to British Columbia and also to Montana.

On Thursday, an additional twenty firefighters, one liaison officer and four wildfire specialists will head for BC. They will join the three-dozen personnel and three aircraft which were sent west earlier this week.

Steve Roberts with the Wildfire Management Branch says the first crews that were sent out haven’t seen active firefighting duty to date but that could change very quickly. He says that the British Columbia Wildfire Service is receiving resources from other agencies throughout the day and there is a process for staging and providing logistic support for those other crews.

“By Thursday, we will start to get a sense of where our crews have been assigned and that what fire activities they will be working on,” he says.

Meanwhile, south of the border, hot and dry weather has sparked an increase in forest fires in Montana.  Saskatchewan is reaching out to help firefighters there deal with blazes as resources in that state are becoming stretched.  Roberts says that two water bombers, a bird dog plane and nine support staff will be flown to Montana to help with firefighting there.  This exchange is being done under the Northwest Fire Compact agreement.

“We have a long-standing mutual aid agreement with Montana and other U-S states and we’ve used it before,” he says.  “And since British Columbia didn’t require our amphibious aircraft, we are able to lend those to our partners across the border.”

Roberts says Saskatchewan is able to offer firefighters and planes to other jurisdictions due to the fact the fire hazard is moderate to low across the province and there are no current active wildfires burning in Saskatchewan.