Environment SA News

DEW staff assisting with North American wildfires

Two fire specialists from the Department for Environment and Water have joined contingents from Australia and New Zealand travelling to North America to help fight wildfires in California and British Columbia.

DEW staff assisting with North American wildfires

Natural Resources South East District Manager Ross Anderson, an expert in fighting fires in steep and inaccessible terrain, was one of 139 people deployed to California.

Fire and Flood Management Unit Manager of Operations Sam Sanderson has joined the British Columbia deployment to share his expertise in aerial ignition to help coordinate back burning.

DEW Director of the Fire and Flood Management Unit Fiona Gill said DEW had sent a number of fire management staff to support local agencies during severe fires since 2000.

“Australia and New Zealand have an ongoing support arrangement with the US and Canada and that support is reciprocated during our summer,” she said.

‘Both Ross Anderson and Sam Sanderson have many years of fire management experience.”

“Ross Anderson has been on fire grounds for almost 30 years, having fought forest fires in Central Gippsland during the Black Saturday fires in Victoria, and taken on various roles during significant fires in the Adelaide Hills and Flinders Ranges.

“In California, he will be acting as a divisional commander, leading crews on the ground.

“Sam Sanderson was instrumental in developing air ignition capabilities for DEW and has continued to be actively involved in coordinating and managing the program for more than 10 years.

“These skills are vital in the back burning operations used in large wildfire situations, where lighting up areas from the air can create strategic breaks in the fuel and limit the spread and impact of a fire.”

The two deployments are expected to return home in early September.