Local MNR fire crews home from Oregon

After fighting raging forest fires in Oregon since Aug. 7, including the “Sour Biscuit” blaze which at one point covered 157,000 hectares, the last of local MNR FireRanger crews returned home over the weekend.
Harrold Boven, fire operations supervisor here, was among the last of the local firefighters to return after a 17-day stint battling the Tiller and Apple fires, southwest of Eugene, Ore.
“The incident command team down there was appreciative of our help,” said Boven.
At one point last month, five four-person FireRanger crews and four forest fire technicians from here were in Oregon.
On Aug. 7, a 128-person Ontario MNR contingent—made up of 100 initial attack firefighters and 28 overhead staff—flew to Boise, Idaho, where they were briefed prior to being dispatched to Oregon.
On Aug. 12, an additional 62 MNR fire staff were sent there.
Once in Oregon, the Ontario staff joined other fire personnel from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, and Yukon.
They were assigned to the “Sour Biscuit” fire, a 157,000-ha blaze burning in the south-central part of the state, and to the “Tiller Complex” (multiple fires) about 120 km to the northeast.
The 570 Canadians were part of a group of more than 7,000 firefighters fighting the two fires.
The Sour Biscuit fire was declared as “contained” about a week ago.
In related news, the fire season continues to be slower than usual in the Fort Frances district.
Only four fires currently are burning in the area, all of which are prescribed burns in the southern part of Quetico Park. These blazes have been kept to a size of one hectare or less, said Boven.
While the fire hazard is “high,” Boven expected this to drop as the forecast calls for a chance of rain over the next few days.
He added that while this area normally has about 100 fires before the end of the season (Oct. 31), it has only seen 69 so far this year.