WATCH: Rain is helping firefighters battle a wildfire near Squamish that was started by a resident burning grass. The fire has grown to 50 hectares in conditions that are already extremely dry. As Skye Ryan reports, Vancouver Island’s BC Wildfire Service firefighters are already preparing for a busy year.
Climbing out of a helicopter that’s still moving is one of the critical skills that BC Wildfire recruits were honing as they went through their last practice on Wednesday.
“Wherever it’s necessary to get into remote locations where there’s no other option for any sort of landing,” Instructor T.J. Hamre said about the training.
Wildfire season is already heating up with several wildfires in March and now a 50-hectare wildfire in Squamish. Officials say a resident started a grass burn in the area and the fire took off.
“It’s a bit unusual this year. The dryness is unusual so we’re getting a lot of open-burning escapes,” Dorthe Jakobsen, an information officer with the BC Wildfire Service, said.
Recruits know they could be called any day. Firefighter Russ Robertson said the more prepared he is, the better.
“I can’t predict what is going to happen, just prepare,” Robertson said.
“These are our firefighters who will be out in the woods in remote areas, climbing scree cliffs. Working on wildfires when they break out,” Jakobsen said.
Officials are hoping rain in April will improve the situation in B.C. So for now, recruits will keep training, ready for the call they know is coming.
“I always comment that we are the people that run the other way. Not away from it but towards it,” Robertson said.
And Port McNeill’s Kara Galbraith looks forward to the chance to protect the forests she grew up in as a firefighter.
“I think we’re ready for whatever is to come. We don’t want to assume the worst for the summer but it is maybe a bit of a glimpse of what could be,” Galbraith said.