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Fourth SSIFR crew aids wildfire suppression

Two more Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue firefighters are reporting for duty to help with wildfire suppression efforts in the B.C. Interior. 

On Friday morning, Lt. Cody Hunsberger and firefighter Ben Westlake left the island to relieve SSIFR firefighters Jason Gaffney and Dustin Bean. The Aug. 4 deployment was the fourth SSIFR team to participate since July 12.

A fifth deployment team could be used if fire conditions do not improve. Salt Spring firefighters have been operating out Williams Lake, Soda Creek and Springfield. 

“Our SSIFR crews have been working alongside numerous other B.C. fire departments setting up residential roof sprinklers, fuel reduction and suppling the wildland firefighters with massive amounts of water,” said Salt Spring Fire Chief Arjuna George in a press release issued on Friday afternoon.

He said that to date more than 400,000 hectares have burnt this year in B.C., making it one of the most destructive fire seasons in B.C. history. 

“This past week we have seen the impact on our local air quality due to the wildfires,” said George. “Conditions are expected to change but residents with respiratory illness should avoid too much exposure outside until it passes.”

Our conditions on Salt Spring Island are also becoming more extreme, he said. In addition to being in an extreme fire danger rating, the island also faced several “30/30 crossover days” this month. 

“Crossover conditions are very concerning for the fire department, as fires that start during these periods start easily and grow fast,” said George. “These conditions occur when our local temperatures exceed 30 degrees and less than 30 per cent humidity. When we hit these conditions, we face a heightened fire threat.”


He said SSIFR crews responded to a grass fire that occurred during a 30/30 crossover period on Furness Road on Aug. 2. Firefighters were able to contain the fire very quickly with little damage.

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