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LETTER: Why can’t two companies fight wildfires in B.C.?

Writer says gov’t isn’t ‘using all the tools in the toolbox’ when it comes to wildfire strategy
A photo of Coulson Aviation’s Boeing 737 Tanker 139, now named “Phoenix.” (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

To the Editor,

I know that the Martin Mars waterbombers are never coming back online as aerial firefighters, which is a shame. I, too, miss the thunder of their engines as the flew out to a fire. My question is: why are we not using all the available resources to fight the fires burning down our province?

We have a world-class company based here in Port Alberni that is at the cutting edge of modern aerial fire fighting, using jet aircraft and night vision technology as well as modified Hercules tankers. Our provincial government is still back in the Dark Ages using small helicopters that can drop thimbles full of water on the fire, a float plane that was designed for crop dusting and a couple of modified Dash-8s with retardant.

Up-to-date resources, a faster response time and larger drops would have stopped the Cameron Bluffs fire on the first or second day when it was just one or two hectares. Once a fire gets to 180 hectares nothing will put it out but time and whatever fire breaks the ground crews can make in the steep, rugged terrain.

Why can’t we have two companies under contract with the province for firefighting? This could shorten response time and lessen the severity of the fires.

I am not just speaking about the local fire but the whole province could benefit from this.

Darrell Humphries,

Port Alberni

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