(Wenatchee, WA) When additional Wildland firefighting resources are needed, those resources are just a phone call away. The Northwest Wildland Fire Protection Agreement (The Northwest Compact), is an agreement between the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and Montana and the Provinces of British Columbia,Saskatchewan, Alberta, and the Yukon and Northwest Territories. This agreement allows these partners to assist each other when the need arises. This is the case with the recent outbreak of fires in Eastern Washington, resulting from the September 8th lightning event.
As resources within the Pacific Northwest and the nation were exhausted a request for assistance from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources was sent to Canada on the 15th of September. Firefighters were mobilized and arrived on the 16th and 17th and were all out on the fire lines by the 18th. Chris Betuzzi, Type 1 Agency Representative, located at the Wenatchee Complex Incident Command Post, said “There are 103 personnel from British Columbia and 4 from the Yukon here in Washington.” There are 3 Unit Crews (similar to Type 1 Interagency Hotshot crews in the US) on the Table Mountain Fire. The remaining crews and managers are assisting on the Wenatchee and Okanogan Complexes and the Goat Fire.
The Northwest Compact also includes Canadian aircraft. Canadian Air Tankers were most recently used in August on the Taylor Bridge Fire, near Cle Elum, Washington. Air Tankers can be launched with a simple phone call and followed up with the necessary documentation, saving precious time for firefighters on the fire line.
Canadian fire crews were last sent to Washington on August 26, 2011 to assist with the Salmon Fire, near Omak. Crews from the United States have also been sent to help with fires on British Columbia in 2004, 2009, and 2010. Wildland Firefighting in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and Canada is truly an example of International cooperation.