MI DNR sends firefighters to British Columbia as part of an international crew

Firefighters from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are joining international crews this week to battle wildfires raging in the western Canadian province of British Columbia. According to the British Columbia Wildfire Service, more than 930,000 acres have burned since April 1.

Eight Michigan firefighters will join two, 20-person international teams that also include staff from Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Canadian province of Ontario. They’re slated to spend two weeks in British Columbia, working up to 16-hour days.

The DNR regularly cooperates with other agencies to help put out fires across North America. In addition to the Canadian wildfires, the DNR has sent two engines with six crew members to Montana, and six new crew members will rotate in this week. An interagency crew also is expected to return soon from Montana.

Additional Michigan fire resources also have been sent to fire efforts in Arizona, Wyoming, Nevada and Washington state so far this year.

Pete Glover recently came back from Arizona, where he worked as a division supervisor on two separate fires near Prescott and Whiteriver. He led crews of 100 to 150 people at a time, using various types of equipment to work fire lines that stretched up to several miles long.

Glover said the out-of-state assignments provide valuable experience for Michigan firefighters, who learn how different terrain, fuel and weather can affect the way a fire burns.

“The more you do something, the better you become at it,” he said. “It makes you more proficient when the time comes to protect your own lands and your own people.”

Steve Cameron recently worked on the Rooster Comb fire near Nevada’s Battle Mountain, which burned more than 200,000 acres of grass and brush earlier this month.

“It’s historic. Firefighters that live here and are working say they haven’t seen it like this,” Cameron said. “This year is going to be an exceptional year for fires out west, and participation is definitely needed.”

Even when the DNR has crews in other states, there are plenty of firefighters still in place to battle any fires that might break out at home.

“Of course our involvement depends on the activity here in Michigan,” Glover said.

When crews are sent on out-of-state assignments, the DNR is fully reimbursed for all costs associated with the support.

For more information about the DNR’s fire management efforts, visit www.michigan.gov/firemanagement.