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June 29, 2010

MADISON - Wisconsin is sending fire fighting crews to Manitoba at the request of the Canadian province to assist with wildfires in The Pas region.

Wisconsin and Manitoba are members of the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact, along with Michigan, Minnesota and Ontario. When requested and when possible members of the compact provide fire fighting assistance to each other. All expenses are paid by the requesting state or province. Manitoba requested assistance on June 24.

"Requests such as this come as a compliment to our fire control program and we are always willing to help provided we can safely spare the needed staff and equipment here at home," said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank. "When we see our neighbors in need, it's important for us to provide what resources we can and the Compact allows us to do just that."

The DNR is sending a 20-person hand crew of fire control staff from around the state. Most departed for Winnipeg and then on to The Pas in northwest Manitoba on Monday, June 28, for a 14-day assignment. The crew will likely be broken down into four, five-person squads that will focus their efforts on pump and hose laying efforts in remote areas.

Wisconsin's spring fire season has wound down with an abundance of rainfall and humidity, resulting in greener vegetation and lower fire danger statewide.

Manitoba has been battling extensive fire activity as a result of dry vegetation and numerous wildfire starts likely caused by lightning in remote areas. British Columbia and Minnesota fire agencies have already answered the call, prompting a request to the Wisconsin DNR as well.

The Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact is made up of natural resource agencies in Michigan, Minnesota, Ontario, Manitoba, and Wisconsin. The partnership created a formal association in 1998 in order to promote effective prevention, pre-suppression and control of forest fires in the Great Lakes Region of the United States and adjacent areas of Canada. The compact promotes the sharing of ideas, new technology, tools, personnel and resources throughout its member agencies. Mobilizing a fire crew such as this allows the opportunity for fire agencies, to participate in resource sharing.

More information on the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact and their mission is available on the compact website at Anyone traveling into Canada for recreational purposes should check with local fire officials before conducting any outdoor burning.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ralph Sheffer, Fire Operations Specialist, (office) (608) 935-1925 or (cell) (608) 279-3621

Last Revised: Tuesday, June 29, 2010

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