Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

July 22, 2011 22:59 ET

Operation FORGE: CF Air Operations Cease After Airlifting More Than 3,600 Northern Ontario Residents to Safety

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 22, 2011) - After successfully evacuating more than 3,600 residents from seven northern Ontario communities that had been threatened by wildfires, Canadian Forces airlift is no longer needed as part of the Province of Ontario-led evacuation efforts.

"The Province of Ontario has advised us that Canadian Forces airlift is no longer required to support the evacuation of northern Ontario communities," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. "However, we will continue to monitor the situation and be prepared to resume assistance to our partners in helping Canadians if and when the need for the Canadian Forces' unique capabilities is required."

Six CC-130 Hercules military transport aircraft flew a total of 42 missions, evacuating 3,614 people from Deer Lake, Cat Lake, Fort Hope, Keewaywin, Kingfisher Lake, Kasabonika and Sandy Lake since July 6, 2011. Half of those flights took place in the past three days.

"I am very proud of the hundreds of men and women of the Canadian Forces who have come together from across the country to aid their fellow citizens during this crisis," said Lieutenant-General Walter Semianiw, the Commander of Canada Command. "Working together with provincial and municipal emergency management personnel, they made an effective team in rescuing people from the wildfires."

Working alongside federal, provincial and municipal partners in evacuating citizens from the forest fire-ravaged areas of northern Ontario, hundreds of Canadian Forces personnel from across the country were involved in Operation FORGE. These include air and ground crew from Winnipeg, Manitoba; Trenton, Ontario; and Greenwood, Nova Scotia, as well as planning staff from Petawawa, Toronto, Winnipeg and Ottawa. Over 50 Canadian Rangers from the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group were mobilized in 14 communities across northern Ontario to assist with the evacuations by working with military ground coordination teams.

Operation FORGE is the Canadian Forces contribution to the Whole-of-Government effort to assist the Government of Ontario in the emergency evacuation of Canadians threatened by wildfires.

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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