Local firefighters respond to provincial callout

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July 9, 2015 8:15 AM

Jaime Polmateer Photo The Britannia-Wilton Fire Department responded to a request for assistance from the Province of Saskatchewan on July 6 and sent a crew out to help fight the wildfires that have been burning near La Ronge. - Jaime Polmateer

The Britannia Wilton Fire Department (BWFD) has responded to a request for assistance and have sent firefighters to La Ronge, Sask. to help battle the wild fires that have been burning in the region. The call came at 1 p.m. on July 6 to which the department agreed to send an 11 member team with some equipment and supplies to help with the cause.

“There was an email that came out Saturday afternoon from the Saskatchewan volunteer firefighters association basically requesting to find out who had equipment and who had available members that could help out with the situation in La Ronge,” said Aaron Buckingham, who serves with the fire department, shortly before the crew headed out. “We replied right away to say that we could send a crew, we could send some trucks ... and we were basically put on a list of available resources. We’re told to be on standby, which we have been until now.”

Buckingham says despite the risks, they’re happy to go help and are thankful for the members who have stepped up and agreed to go. This is the first time the BWFD has responded to a provincial callout and the work will likely be bigger than what they’re used to.

“It’s a brotherhood and it’s all about getting the job done so it’s nice that we’re able to do this and going on with that, to thank the members of our department for stepping up and leaving their families to risk their lives to go up there.” he said. “And to thank our employers, the employers are a big thing. If they didn’t allow our guys to go we wouldn’t be able to send anybody.”

With the remaining members in the RM being left understaffed, the fire ban for the area has also been put back in place, affective immediately.

According to Colin King, deputy commissioner of emergency management and fire safety for the Province of Saskatchewan, the majority of evacuations due to smoke and fire threats have been completed with over 7,000 people receiving emergency special services support. The last evacuees of La Ronge specifically were relocated on July 5.

All provincial advisors and officials still strongly urge that all communities that have been evacuated are still unsafe for return.

“The threat has not been reduced in any of those communities and we are advising all community leadership to remain out until it is safe for their community membership to return,” said King. “That’s not the case in any of the locations threatened.”

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