Eight provincial Department of Natural Resources firefightersheaded to Kootenay National Park in British Columbia on Sunday,Aug. 17, to help combat forest fires that have been ravagingwestern Canada for more than a month. British Columbia alone hasabout 880 active fires. The Natural Resources staff members are the third group offirefighters to head west in recent weeks. A team of six currently in Alberta is expected to return to NovaScotia this week. The Natural Resources staff who just left, including a five-member helitack crew, are expected to be in B.C. until earlySeptember. Helitack are specialized initial-attack personnel whoare transported by helicopters to remote fires. Their level ofexperience will complement the wide-ranging experience of theother crew members on the fire line. They will be joined by 10Newfoundland fire personnel and two firefighters from PrinceEdward Island. The decision to send additional staff is again in response torequests for assistance under the Canadian Mutual Aid ResourceSharing Agreement administered by the Canadian Interagency ForestFire Centre. The centre is the national organization responsiblefor co-ordinating the sharing of critical forest fire resourcesin Canada. Nova Scotia is a full participating member of theorganization. The agreement provides rapid assistance andstandardized costs for the benefit of all Canadian fire agencies. Wet weather conditions in Nova Scotia, and the associated reducedfire risk, are making it possible for the province to provide theadditional fire-fighting services. The costs associated with thisassistance are fully recoverable and will not reduce NovaScotia’s fire-fighting budget. Nova Scotia staff gain valuable experience from theseassignments, increasing their ability to effectively fight largefires at home in the future.