‘Fire is a family’: Oregon Dept. of Forestry deploys 22 firefighters to help battle Alberta, Canada blazes
SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) – The Oregon Department of Forestry is deploying 22 firefighters to Alberta, Canada through the Northwest Compact to provide extra support in fighting the dozens of wildfires being battled across the western province.
The Northwest Compact is a mutual assistance agreement that allows five northwest states, including Oregon, and five NW Canadian provinces and territories to easily share resources with one another, creating a larger and more comprehensive fire management system.
Currently, Alberta is experiencing an influx of fire activity, with over 100 active wildfires across the province. Of those, at least 14 are larger wildfires.
The province has been experiencing an immense amount of lightning and high winds paired with dryer and warmer conditions as we transition into summer, and their resources are becoming more strained as the wildfires and evacuations continue.
The ODF team will be on a standard, two-week deployment in Alberta and will return with new knowledge on firefighting tactics, refined skills and stronger relationships with our partners up north.
“Fire is a family, no matter if it’s in the U.S. or Canada, and we’re here to help,” said Mike Shaw, ODF’s Fire Protection Division Chief. “But keep in mind that, before committing to any deployment, we make sure that our own fire management system is prepared and ready to respond to fires here in Oregon.”
In its 25th year, the Northwest Compact was created to facilitate assistance in wildland fire pre-suppression and suppression efforts between member agencies. Member agencies include Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon and Northwest Territories.
The relationships built through the Northwest Compact benefit Oregon equally when our fire season hits its peak and has for decades. For example:
- Last year during the Double Creek Fire, four resources came to Oregon from British Columbia to help.
- During the 2020 Labor Day wildfires, more than 7,500 personnel from multiple Canadian provinces and 39 states answered Oregon’s call.
- In 2017, several Canadian firefighters assisted Oregon in preparing for the solar eclipse and responding to the Chetco Bar Fire.
“By creating a cache of reciprocal resources, both Oregon and Alberta can benefit from each other when fire seasons hit hard and resources become strained,” Blake Ellis, Fire Operations Manager for the Fire Protection Division, said.