A Conair airtanker helps battle a wildifire south of Penticton last week. The Abbosford-based company currently has 26 of its planes involved in the wildfire situation across B.C. (Mark Brett/Black Press)

A Conair airtanker helps battle a wildifire south of Penticton last week. The Abbosford-based company currently has 26 of its planes involved in the wildfire situation across B.C. (Mark Brett/Black Press)

Conair Group provides 26 planes for wildfire situation

Abbotsford company under contract with provincial government

An Abbotsford company is playing a big role in the current wildfire situation in B.C.

The Conair Group, based at Abbotsford Airport, currently has 26 of its aircraft battling fires that are raging in places such as Cache Creek, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Princeton.

Jeff Berry, director of business development, said the planes include 20 airtankers and six bird-dog aircraft that lead them. The bird-dogs are each manned with a pilot and a firefighter who check for hazards and determine the most effective and safe drop locations.

Some of the tankers are amphibious (water bombers) that skim water from lakes and rivers and drop it on the fires.

Others are land-based tankers that are filled with a red chemical retardant.

The aircraft are operated by the Conair Group under contract to the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS).

Berry said three aircraft remain on site at Conair in Abbotsford in order to fly out parts needed for the deployed planes or to provide pilot relief.

He said there are currently 15 maintenance engineers and 34 pilots deployed for the Conair planes.

They come from various areas and are based with one of the six airtanker groups which are called out for service where needed by BCWS. There are two teams based in Penticton, two in Kamloops, one in Castlegar and one in Abbotsford.

Berry, who previously worked for more than three decades with the B.C. Ministry of Forests, said although he has seen some intense fire seasons in the past, he doesn’t recall one starting so early in the summer.

He said it’s impossible to predict how the season could progress, with too many factors – primarily the weather – making a difference.

Meanwhile, Coulson Group CEO Wayne Coulson said his company is waiting for word from the province on whether their firefighting apparatus – including the Hawaii Mars waterbomber – will be called into action.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Interior Health reports 2 more deaths, 83 new COVID-19 cases

Health authority also identifies new virus cluster in Fernie

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Driver crashes vehicle twice in one day near Princeton

Abbotsford woman, 29, wasn’t injured in either incident

“My grandma always just said…making people smile is the most important thing,” says Nicholas Kruger. (Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Entrepreneur Nicholas Kruger nominated as Okanagan community changemaker

With humour and knowledge, Nicholas Kruger says it’s important to give back

Colton Jacob Thorsen. (Facebook)
Accused Osoyoos shooter to be tried by judge

Colton Jacob Thorsen is charged with attempted murder stemming from an October 2020 incident

A pair of Okanagan Regional Library reference librarians have created a podcast called Hard Cover that takes a zany but informative look at books, libraries and librarians. (File photo)
Okanagan reference librarians produce quirky podcast

Davin Helkenberg and Peter Critchley are behind Hard Cover

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Crown prosecutors have stayed attempted murder charges against Kelowna’s Jesse Pez. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Man accused in Kelowna Halloween stabbing has attempted murder charge stayed

The Crown only proceeds with charges when evidence provides ‘a substantial likelihood of conviction’

RCMP released this photo on Jan. 27, 2021 of Terrance Jones, 40, a Caucasian man with a closely shaved head, brown eyes, dirty blonde or brown hair, and a thin mustache and beard. The inside of his right arm is covered in tattoos, including one of a face. (Kamloops RCMP photo)
RCMP want public’s help to locate Shuswap man wanted on charge of attempted murder

Sicamous man was arrested previously on Jan. 11 for allegedly breaching conditions of release

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Vernon’s Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
COVID-19: Two more deaths at Vernon’s Noric House

Total deaths climb to 17 at local long-term care outbreaks

Most Read