Mark wings it on the Canadian fire ground


DISTRICT manager for the Shoalhaven District RFS, Mark Williams has returned from four weeks of fighting fires in Canada.

The fires at Mount McAllister and Chelaslie River in British Columbia were the worst since the late 1950s and have burnt through 200,000 hectares of forest.

Mr Williams was part of a team of more than 80 Australians, including 14 from NSW, battling the fires.

As an aviation specialist, Mr Williams assisted in flying operations and managing the helicopters at ground bases on the edge of the fire.

“It was similar to work I have done at home,” he said.

“The Chelaslie River fire burnt through more than 133,000 hectares and the Mt McAllister fire more than 26,000ha,” Mr Williams said.

“The Chelaslie River fire was a mixture of farming and ranching properties with timber infrastructure in a forestry area.

“At Mt McAllister firefighters had the difficult task of trying to save 43 wind powered generators on the ridge line, each worth about $3 million.

“There was also other major infrastructure like power lines which powered all the West Coast as well as the pipelines from Alaska.”

Mr Williams also acted as the incident manager on one of the fires.

“They do things pretty similar to us in terms of planning logistics,” he said.

“At one stage we had resources including 16 aircraft.

The base camp was established remotely from the township, with about 200-300 personnel, while between 400 and 500 firefighters were on the fire ground.

“The aviation equipment is similar to what we have and use, however we don’t use the same fixed winged aircraft,” he said.

“They have scooping aircraft with large bodies, and with so much water available due to the snow they just come down and scoop up the water. Each holds 3000 litres.

“Ours have to come back to an airfield to be refilled.

“I even met up with four or five pilots from Canada that we work with here in NSW.”

The Australians were in Canada for just over four weeks, instead of the planned five after favourable weather conditions, including rain on the fire ground, helped douse the fire.

GLOBAL EFFORT: Shoalhaven District RFS manager Mark Williams spent four weeks fighting fires in Canada.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.