A Conair airtanker helps battle a wildifire south of Penticton last week. The Abbosford-based company currently has 26 of its planes involved in the wildfire situation across B.C. (Mark Brett/Black Press)

Conair Group provides 26 planes for wildfire situation

Abbotsford company under contract with provincial government

An Abbotsford company is playing a big role in the current wildfire situation in B.C.

The Conair Group, based at Abbotsford Airport, currently has 26 of its aircraft battling fires that are raging in places such as Cache Creek, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Princeton.

Jeff Berry, director of business development, said the planes include 20 airtankers and six bird-dog aircraft that lead them. The bird-dogs are each manned with a pilot and a firefighter who check for hazards and determine the most effective and safe drop locations.

Some of the tankers are amphibious (water bombers) that skim water from lakes and rivers and drop it on the fires.

Others are land-based tankers that are filled with a red chemical retardant.

The aircraft are operated by the Conair Group under contract to the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS).

Berry said three aircraft remain on site at Conair in Abbotsford in order to fly out parts needed for the deployed planes or to provide pilot relief.

He said there are currently 15 maintenance engineers and 34 pilots deployed for the Conair planes.

They come from various areas and are based with one of the six airtanker groups which are called out for service where needed by BCWS. There are two teams based in Penticton, two in Kamloops, one in Castlegar and one in Abbotsford.

Berry, who previously worked for more than three decades with the B.C. Ministry of Forests, said although he has seen some intense fire seasons in the past, he doesn’t recall one starting so early in the summer.

He said it’s impossible to predict how the season could progress, with too many factors – primarily the weather – making a difference.

Meanwhile, Coulson Group CEO Wayne Coulson said his company is waiting for word from the province on whether their firefighting apparatus – including the Hawaii Mars waterbomber – will be called into action.

Just Posted

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of two men in Anahim Lake

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

VIDEO: Researchers rely on drones to survey aftermath of B.C. wildfires

UBC researchers are using aerial drones to study the historic 2017 wildfires in the province

Over thirteen percent of Bella Coola residents rely on Food Bank

Demand for Christmas Hampers up by 45 families this year

Site C dam goes ahead, cost estimate now up to $10.7 billion

Premier John Horgan says Christy Clark left him no other choice

‘I fell asleep’ admits second mate in Nathan E. Stewart fuel spill

The tug spilled more than 100,000 litres of diesel off B.C.’s northern coast

VIDEO: Average Canadian food bill to rise by $348 in 2018

Atlantic Canada and B.C. will see the most increases for consumers

Owl found dead after eating rat poison leaves B.C. woman concerned

After finding the owl on her Surrey property, Christine Trozzo says the poison is a concern for kids

Change to CPP death benefit panned as insufficient to cover funeral costs

Funeral Services Association of Canada lobbied governments to raise the value to $3,580

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of sexual harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Accused B.C. drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

Most Read