Happy to help Canada, but U.S. wildfire season is rapidly approaching, officials warn

U.S. eyes own fire season

The agency co-ordinating the deployment of U.S. firefighters and equipment to Canada says it is keeping a wary eye on its own looming fire season.

The U.S. National Interagency Fire Center says there are currently 345 federal firefighters and support personnel helping out north of the border.

A total of 649 U.S. personnel have been cycled through Canada since early May — but that number doesn't include state-level resources that are also assisting.

More than 100 firefighters and support workers have been sent separately to Alberta, Nova Scotia and Quebec, along with four airtankers from Alaska and Washington state.

A 17-person suppression crew with members from Connecticut, New York, Maine and New Hampshire was also assembled to help Nova Scotia, and a hand crew is being assembled to send to Quebec.

But many of those workers will soon be needed closer to home, the agency warns, with the busy summer fire season rapidly approaching.

"We are more than willing to provide Canada as many resources as we can as they have done for us in the past," said Jeff Arnberger, chair of the agency's National Multi-Agency Co-ordinating Group.

"We have been fortunate to have a slow start to our fire year nationally. However, as we head into traditionally busy months of summer, we must also be prepared for wildfires in the U.S."

The current total of federally co-ordinated U.S. personnel in Canada includes 322 members of 13 separate fire suppression crews, seven "overhead" support workers and an incident management team with 16 members.

"This number will fluctuate daily as we have resources returning and responding to requests."

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