Watch out or waterbombers


As many people plan to take to rivers and lakes this holiday weekend, the Ministry of Natural Resources wants the public to know how safe boating can help CL-415 waterbombers do their job.
Curiosity drives people and nothing draws a crowd faster than a CL-415 heavy waterbomber scooping water and dropping it on a forest fire.
The big tankers are a combination of power, size, and acrobatic movement as they swoop down from the sky, skimming across the lake at high speed, scooping water through small probes on the under body, and then lifting off and flying to a wildfire target.
The safest way for boaters to operate in the presence of a waterbomber is to move away from the area immediately.
This prevents any chance of collision, and lessens the impact of the large wake that a waterbomber can create in the water.
It also is important to know that waterbombers usually operate in circuits—flying to the lake, scooping, and flying off to drop their load on the fire, then circling back to the lake to repeat the process.
This means boaters have to watch for the waterbomber’s return.
Often more than one waterbomber works on a fire and they set up circuit patterns, with one dropping a load on the fire and one or more en route to the lake for more water.
The operation of waterbombers is strictly regulated and if boaters come too close or there is any potential safety hazard, then the waterbombers will be forced to find another location to scoop water.
This may place them further away from the fire and result in a longer turn-around time to get water on the fire.
When every minute counts in wildfire management, an unnecessary delay in waterbombing could be critical.
So for the safety of everyone, boaters are encouraged to move away from any area where waterbombers are scooping.
Hazard high
Meanwhile, warm temperatures, low relative humidity, and high winds across the region continue to keep the forest fire hazard at “high to extreme,” the MNR reported.
Eight new fires were reported yesterday, including three in Dryden District, one in Kenora District, two in Sioux Lookout District, and two in Red Lake District.
In related news, Kenora Fire #36, which was confirmed Tuesday on Falcon Island on Lake of the Woods, has grown to an estimated 150 hectares in size.
While this fire is not threatening any values at this time, it is receiving a full response by three CL-415 waterbombers as well as two FireRanger crews.
And more are FireRangers are on their way.
This fire is burning diagonally across the island, spreading in to the northwest because strong winds pushed this fire out of the southeast all day.
This blaze, the cause of which is still unknown, is classified as “not under control.”
There are 16 active fires in Northwestern Ontario, including Fort Frances Fire #9—a 6.8-ha. blaze north of Barwick which first was reported Wednesday.
It is now classified as “under control.”
Forest fires can be reported by calling toll-free 310-FIRE (3473).