Forest Fire Fighters / an example of US and Canadian Cooperation

News reports were full of stories about fiveforest fires raging in Ontario and Quebec.  We could see evidence of the fire long before we reached The Caughnawana Fishing Camp. While we were having breakfast in Deep River the waitress suggested that we call ahead to make sure we could even get through. The fire had been burning for days and once we were alerted to this possibility, our real concern turned to whether we might get stuck in the woods with the fire cutting us off from any means of escape. There was only one road in and one road out. Fortunately there was a BIG lake we could all jump into, boats and islands if things got too close and hot.

Once we were settled on Monday afternoon, we began to hear helicopters overhead and a small pontoon plane skidding on to the water in front of us. Soon guys (okay there was one girl) in smudged clothing and yellow helmets began to come on to the wharf loaded down with gear.

While the others in my group politely wondered where these teams came from, how things were going on the front and where they were headed. I did what the others wanted to do. I went over and asked them. The team I spoke to were on loan from New Hampshire. Basically, they had already been fighting the fire for five days and were assigned to this fire for another sixteen or until the fire was extinguished. I said, “That seems like a long time to me.”  Perhaps all forest fire workers are skimpy talkers as none of them seemed to be lavish communicators. One waited on the other to respond until after a long pause and eyes flashing around to see who would take the lead, one of them said, “We have to do more than bring the fire under control. It takes a lot of extra time to trouble shoot by putting dead-out anything that might have the potential to flare up again.” I then learned that the fire had basically been licked as long as it didn’t turn windy and with a possibility of heavy rain the main problem seemed pretty much over. That was good news for everyone. I thought, Jake (my grandson) would love this work.

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