Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Soldiers Help Fight Fires in Saskatchewan, Foreign Crews to Head Further West

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Soldiers Help Fight Fires in Saskatchewan, Foreign Crews to Head Further West

Article excerpt

Wildfires in Western Canada stretch resources

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Soldiers began helping crews fight wildfires threatening communities in northern Saskatchewan on Wednesday, as other western provinces called in help from foreign countries.

About 360 troops were building fire guards and clearing brush near La Ronge and Montreal Lake.

Steve Roberts with Saskatchewan Wildfire Management said crews made some progress and better visibility allowed aircraft to dump water on some flames.

He said the fire situation across Western Canada is so busy that it is a challenge for the provinces to get enough firefighters.

"As we started down the road with these fires, Alberta and British Columbia fire hazards escalated, the numbers of fires increased and they had community evacuations as well," Roberts said.

"That has stretched the availability of resources across the country."

Flames and thick smoke have forced an estimated 9,000 people from their homes in Saskatchewan. Crews from Quebec, Ontario, Newfoundland, New Brunswick and South Dakota have been helping out.

Roberts said the province was in discussions with the United States government about more crews coming north.

The La Ronge First Nation was also seeking volunteers to help fight fires, including evacuees.

The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, which co-ordinates firefighting services, said Canada may have to seek more help from abroad.

The latest report on the agency website said major wildfires "have the potential to exhaust agency fire resources nationally."

"National resource levels are insufficient to meet occurring and anticipated wildland fire activity," it said.

On Wednesday, Alberta said it was bringing in 62 firefighters from Mexico to help battle 92 wildfires. It was also looking at the possibility of crews from Australia and New Zealand.

British Columbia, with more than 180 fires, was to bring in firefighters from Australia. …

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