Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

July 19, 2011 00:54 ET

Canadian Forces Assists in Evacuation of Northern Ontario Residents Threatened by Wildfires

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 19, 2011) - The Canadian Forces have supported municipal and provincial authorities in Ontario in evacuating 385 residents threatened by wildfires in the communities of Fort Hope and Sandy Lake. That number continues to climb as Canadian Forces aircraft continue the airlift of threatened Canadians out of Sandy Lake.

"The Canadian Forces are always ready to provide their unique capabilities to complement the existing provincial and municipal resources when Canadians are at risk", said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. "The support the men and women of the Canadian Forces are bringing to the communities most affected by the wildfires is a great demonstration of their dedication to the safety and welfare of their fellow Canadians."

Beginning on Sunday, members of the Eabametoong First Nation were evacuated by the Canadian Forces from Fort Hope to Greenstone (Geraldton), Ontario using a CC-130 Hercules military transport aircraft tasked from 424 Squadron at 8 Wing Trenton. In total, 265 people were transported to safety, with the operation ceasing as of Monday morning. Ten members of the 3rd Canadian Rangers Patrol Group assisted in this evacuation effort by coordinating logistics, communicating with families and in the loading of the aircraft.

Beginning today, members of the Sandy Lake First Nation were evacuated from Sandy Lake to Sioux Lookout using a CC-130 Hercules aircraft tasked from 435 Squadron at 17 Wing Winnipeg. In total, 120 people were transported to safety as of late Monday afternoon. Fourteen Canadian Rangers also supported the Sandy Lake evacuation.

"Canada Command constantly monitors the situation across Canada, in order to be ready to respond quickly and efficiently to threats, hazards and emergencies as they emerge, said Lieutenant-General Walter Semianiw, Commander of Canada Command. We are proud to work alongside our provincial and municipal partners to come to the assistance of Canadians at risk."

Canada Command continues to monitor the ongoing forest fire situation in northern Ontario and remains prepared to support communities at risk of smoke or threatened by fire.

Notes to editor / news director: Still and video imagery of evacuation operations can be found at: www.combatcamera.forces.gc.ca.

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