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U.S. Wildland Firefighters Lend a Hand in Canada

August 2009

On Friday, August 7, firefighters from the United States arrived in British Columbia, Canada to assist the Canadians in fire suppression efforts during what has become a busy fire season. Incident Commander Bill Molumby, whose usual job is as a fire management officer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service southern California fire management zone, and the California Incident management Team 2 his incident management team spent the first few days of their trip north getting oriented to the fire policies, typical fire behavior, and anticipated weather for Canada. The team, made up of about 30 people with specialized skills to support fire suppression, shadowed Canadian teams to learn how they manage things differently and similarly to the way fires are managed in the United States.

After a complete orientation, Molumby’s team assumed command of the Terrace Mountain Fire near West Kelowna, British Columbia. The fire is over 22,000 acres and is threatening critical infrastructure as well as homes and private property. There is a great deal of national interest in the fire due partly to a historic fire that burned in the same area in 2003 consuming 200 homes.

Although the United States has worked extensively with international partners such as Canada, Australia, and Russia in the past in the realm of wildland fire, this recent trip to Canada marks only the second time a team from the United States has been in full command of a fire burning on international land.  An incident management team from the US managed a fire in Canada during the 2006 fire season. Molumby’s team expects to be assigned to the incident for at least two weeks.


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