Minnesota-based aerial firefighting company helps battle Canadian wildfires
(KSTP) – Pilots from Dauntless Air, based in Appleton, Minnesota, have been flying aerial water tanker missions to help knock down raging Canadian wildfires in recent weeks.
As of Tuesday, there are 66 active wildland fires across Ontario, according to the province’s Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry.
“They’ve been flying just about every day,” said Jesse Weaver, director of operations and chief pilot at Dauntless Air, who has been keeping tabs on his crews that have been working north of the border. “Ontario sees a busy fires season, a real busy one, once every 10 years.”
The planes being used are Fire Boss air tankers that can carry upwards of 800 gallons of water.
The amphibious planes are designed by a company in South Saint Paul and used to battle wildland fires.
The air tankers swoop in to refill their tanks with water in lakes or rivers, then can work together to dump the water on the fire, flying for several hour stretches at a time.
“It’s an orchestrated, very disciplined air show, ” is how Weaver described the aerial firefighting missions. “It’s very rewarding to be able to take your skills, have fun, and make a difference to give back to the community or the environment.”
The pilots flew in Canada through a forest fire compact the State of Minnesota has with Canada, and other Upper Midwestern states, to provide firefighting assistance.
The final plane is returning Tuesday back from the Dryden, Ontario area.
The smoke from the Ontario and Manitoba wildfires has moved into Minnesota and Wisconsin leading to air quality alerts.
“Our average face coverings are not going to filter, these small particles,” said Ron Schneider, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fire specialist. “So, the only thing we can hope for is the fires are extinguished which may be months…or a change in the weather pattern.”
Dry conditions have helped fuel some of the large numbers of wildfires burning in Canada, according to experts.
The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) reports 480 wildfires burning in the country, with seven new fires discovered on Tuesday.