Minnesota sends 17 firefighters to help fight Canadian wildfires

More than a dozen Minnesota firefighters started heading to Canada on Monday to help battle the wildfires many provinces are struggling with.

Gov. Tim Walz’s office says the 17 wildland firefighters from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources were deployed after a mutual aid request from Manitoba through the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact.

“Thank you to the Minnesota wildland firefighters who answered the call to help our neighbors in the north,” Walz said. “We have a strong partnership and will continue to do everything we can to share resources and contain the Canadian wildfires.”

“Canada is experiencing a historic fire season this year and I’m proud that our DNR wildland firefighters are ready to protect life and property in Minnesota and beyond, whenever the call comes in,” DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said. “The Minnesota DNR’s partnership with Canada and with our neighboring states ensures we can quickly and efficiently share resources to respond to wildfires throughout the region.”

The DNR says the firefighters left from Grand Rapids on Monday and will stop in Winnipeg to connect with Canadian officials before heading to wherever they’re needed, likely a remote part of Manitoba.

Minnesota last sent firefighters to Canada in 2019, the agency added, noting a typical deployment lasts 14 days, not including travel time.

Walz’s office said the compact allows Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Manitoba and Ontario to share resources upon request, something Minnesota benefitted from during the state’s extensive 2021 wildfire season.