Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

July 20, 2011 23:09 ET

Canadian Forces Evacuate Over 2500 Canadians From Communities Threatened by Ontario Wildfires

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 20, 2011) - The Canadian Forces evacuated over 500 more people today from the communities of Sandy Lake and Kingfisher Lake, which are among the communities in northern Ontario threatened by wildfires.

Working alongside municipal and provincial authorities in the forest fire-ravaged parts of northern Ontario, Canadian Forces aircrew flew residents to safety aboard CC-130 Hercules transport aircraft. Canadian Rangers, activated in 14 communities throughout the area, participated in several of the evacuations. Hundreds more Canadian Forces personnel were involved in the detailed planning and coordination of logistics for this complex operation.

"As forest fires continue to ravage many parts of Northern Ontario, it's reassuring to know that members of the Canadian Forces are ready to respond quickly to help endangered Canadians when they are called upon to aid the provincial and municipal governments," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. "Without fail, the impressive resources that the men and women of the Canadian Forces bring to bear in these affected communities will help ensure the safety and welfare of their fellow Canadians."

The air evacuations were conducted by Canada Command's Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC), located at 1 Canadian Air Division Headquarters in Winnipeg. The Canadian Forces aircraft flown in today's operations originated from 14 Wing in Greenwood, Nova Scotia, 8 Wing in Trenton, Ontario, and 17 Wing in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Canada Command's Joint Task Force Centre, based in Toronto, mobilized members of the 3rd Canadian Patrol Ranger Group, which assisted in evacuation efforts at Sandy Lake by coordinating the logistical plans, loading aircraft and communicating with the families of community members throughout the operation.

"The safety and well-being of our fellow Canadians is a primary concern for me," said Lieutenant-General Walter Semianiw, Commander of Canada Command. "We are working hard to bring these people to safety as quickly and as safely as possible. The professionalism and dedication displayed by members of the Canadian Forces involved in this challenging operation reinforces that Canadians can rely on their military when it is needed."

Canada Command, which is responsible for Canadian Forces operations in Canada, is continuing to work together with other federal, provincial and municipal authorities to assist those Canadians who are still at risk of smoke or threatened by the wildfires. The evacuation is continuing with more flights planned for tomorrow. Since the beginning of July, the Canadian Forces has flown over 2,500 residents of Deer Lake, Cat Lake, Fort Hope, Keewaywin, Kingfisher Lake, and Sandy Lake to safety.

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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