B.C. Wildfire adds pair of upgraded air tankers, based out of Kamloops, for this fire fighting season - InfoNews

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B.C. Wildfire adds pair of upgraded air tankers, based out of Kamloops, for this fire fighting season

One of the new retrofitted commercial planes with an increased retardant capacity of 15 per cent.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / BC Wildfire Service
May 17, 2020 - 6:00 PM

The B.C. Wildfire Service has new weapons in its arsenal to attack fires from the sky this season.

“They’re a really good asset when a fire is starting to get beyond that initial attack capacity, we can use them endlessly to limit the amount of spread,” Forrest Tower, communication specialist with B.C. Wildfire, said.

B.C. Wildfire has added two new retrofitted commercial planes to their fleet, which is based out of Kamloops, with an increased retardant capacity of 15 per cent. An additional six plane skimmer group is also available for the season.

“We have increased capacity all around for this year,” he said. “We’re continuously trying to get to that next generation of aircraft capacity, as it is a really big asset.” 

Although it is still early to predict, B.C. Wildfire is currently expecting an average fire season for 2020.

So far, most fires in B.C. have been human caused, despite the current burning prohibitions put in place and the government protocols due to COVID-19.

However, the prohibitions have caused a reduction of smoke in the air, especially in high population urban areas.

“Smoke definitely plays a part in viral respiratory infections,” Tower said. “We want to do our part and use the legislation and laws that we can enact as the B.C. Wildfire Service to make it the best situation as possible.”  

Due to the pandemic, B.C. residents have been encouraged to stay home and provincial parks have been closed since April 8.

However, the number of fires reported so far this season has been similar to previous years.

“We’ll kind of have to see how the rest of the summer plays out,” Tower said. He hopes that more people will begin to follow the rules in the coming weeks.

“If these prohibitions do stay in place for much longer, we might start to see a reduction in human-caused wildfires,” he said.

To check B.C. Wildfire for updates, visit its website here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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