Deficit of Fire Suppression Personnel Hindering Canadian and U.S. Efforts to Contain Spreading Wildfires
Intense wildfire season drains resources in both Canada, U.S.
Despite their differences on the forest products industry, Canada and United States have a long and steeped history and tradition of helping each other out when it comes to wildfire and firefighting reinforcements. That will not be case this year, as both countries contended with one of the earliest and most severe wildfire seasons in recent times.
According to a Natural Resources Canada background memo obtain by the Canadian press, both countries need all hands on deck to battle the rampant spread of wildfires on either side of the border. Both the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre and its U.S. counterpart are at Level 5 of the “national preparedness” scale, the highest tier, “indicating a deficit of personnel in both countries,” the memo says.
As of Wednesday (8-4-21) in B.C. alone, 269 active fires were reported, and experts are anticipating the worst summer in the province in more than 70 years. Across the Prairie provinces, more than 160 fires are burning in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and northwest Ontario. All told, Canada’s currently active wildfires have consumed about 1.2 million hectares of territory, an area twice the size of Prince Edward Island.
In 14 different states across the U.S., meanwhile, about 21,000 firefighters are battling 96 fires, including 24 large blazes in Montana and 20 in Idaho.
The Natural Resources memo concludes that “The demand from the 2021 fire season shows we both need more resources in the future.”
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