Canadian Armed Forces air support to B.C. wildfire situation

Air crew from 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron and B.C. Wildfire Service members pose for a group photo at YKA Kamloops Airport, B.C., on July 15. Photo by S1 Victoria Ioganov, MARPAC Imaging Services, Canadian Armed Forces photo

Air crew from 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron and B.C. Wildfire Service members pose for a group photo at YKA Kamloops Airport, B.C., on July 15. Photo by S1 Victoria Ioganov, MARPAC Imaging Services, Canadian Armed Forces photo

Lt(N) Pamela Hogan
JTFP PAO
––

In response to a request for federal assistance from British Columbia, Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) assets deployed to the province on July 5, as part of an overall CAF response to wildfires across the country called Operation Lentus.

In anticipation of the request, multiple Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) assets were sent to Edmonton, AB, in preparation to be quickly expedited to B.C. An Airfield Activation Surge Team from 2 Wing Bagotville, QC, rapidly deployed to Kamloops to establish the airfield and initiate mission support services ahead of the Air Task Force’s arrival.

A CH-146 Griffon helicopter from 417 Combat Support Squadron, Cold Lake, AB, specializing in contingency medical evacuation, was skids-down on the taxiway July 8, and within minutes was followed by the first CH-147F Chinook helicopter from 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, Petawawa, ON.

Later that day, a 436 Transport Squadron CC-130J Hercules aircraft from 8 Wing, Trenton, ON, arrived with supplies necessary to set up the airfield and has since accomplished many transports of military and B.C. Wildfire Service equipment.

A second CH-147F Chinook helicopter from 450 Squadron joined the Air Task Force on July 11 to share the workload of providing air mobility to fire support crews, conducting reconnaissance to determine the scope and scale of fires, and transporting mobile firefighting equipment.

An additional CH-146 Griffon
helicopter from 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, Edmonton, AB, arrived July 8 to support the B.C. Wildfire Service with utility moves.

The abnormally harsh conditions of the 2021 wildfire season have led to approximately 448,952 hectares burned at this time – more than four times the 10-year average for this time of year.

With 3,375 properties on evacuation order in B.C., and 18,065 properties on evacuation alert as of July 27, the Air Task Force continues to launch community evacuation by air where resources are limited or restricted due to wildfire activity.

On July 15, approximately 6,000 hectares of combined blazes encroached on the Anahim Lake area forcing residents out of their homes. In response, a CH-147F Chinook supported a community evacuation of residents to Puntzi Mountain, B.C., with support from the 417 Squadron Griffon.

The domestic operation has yielded much-needed assistance to the province, which declared a state of emergency just 19 days after concluding the 16-month state of emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic.

A task force of approximately 350 land troops are currently deployed to Vernon to aid the B.C. Wildfire Service in suppression of hotspots, monitor fire lines, and work alongside B.C. Wildfire Service personnel in a support capacity.

Federal assistance to B.C. in its fight against wildfires will be periodically reassessed throughout the wildfire season to evaluate the needs of the province and determine whether an extension is required beyond the requested period of support.

––––

Filed Under: Top Stories

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply




If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.