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Fire crews from Minnesota assisting with Kenora forest fires

Jul 26, 2018 07:16AM ● By Editor
Fire crews from Minnesota are assisting in fighting Kenora Fire 71 and Kenora Fire 77.  (CBC)

By Kirthana Sasitharan · CBC News · July 26, 2018

Crews fighting Kenora Fire 71 will get some help from their neighbours to the south.

The Minnesota Interagency Fire Centre has sent 20 firefighters to Kenora Fire 71, burning northwest of Kenora near the Manitoba border. Another 13 firefighters are assigned to Kenora Fire 77.

Rebekah Luedtke, centre manager at the Minnesota interagency coordination centre in Grand Rapids, Minn., said there is an existing relationship between Ontario and Minnesota.

"The agreement between Canada and the United States [is] an annual agreement that the two governments go into. [It] allows for us to share resources across the border," said Luedtke.  

"Usually when Ontario or Manitoba is looking for resources, their provincial duty officer will call me to see if we have anything that's available."

The crew of 20 working on Kenora Fire 71 was sent out on the July 16, while the crew of 13 sent to Kenora Fire 77 was sent out July 23.

Aviation crew members sent to Sudbury last week have also now moved over to help fight the Kenora fires.    

"Generally they're going to be tasked with what's called sustained action or extended attack. The Ontario firefighters are going to be tasked with initial attack and then our crews will come up from behind and manage the fire as they keep hopping from one initial attack fire to another," said Luedtke.

"They'll generally be working a lot on mopping up the fire, line containment, doing a lot of pump and hose lays to get water from the creek or the river or the lake or wherever they're at to the line to put that stuff out completely."

Luedtke says that the crews from Minnesota will be staying for a minimum of 14 days and as fires continue to pop up across northern Ontario.

"We certainly hope to continue to help our neighbours to the north," said Luedtke. "They're experiencing quite a bit of activity...and it doesn't look like it's going to let up for quite a while."   


Kirthana Sasitharan is a webwriter and associate producer with CBC News. She is a 2018 Joan Donaldson scholar. Reach her on twitter @KirthanaSasitha.

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