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

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

(Black Press file photo)
Charges laid against two suspects in pre-Christmas home invasion

An 88-year-old woman was hospitalized after being bear-sprayed in the face Dec. 18, 2020

Liam and Tyler Spaans, (L-R), are two of the current lifeguards at the Houston Leisure Facility. (Houston Leisure Services file photo)
Leisure facility anticipates need for lifeguards

Has been challenged in the past

Residents rank snow removal as a high priority within District boundaries. (Houston Today file photo)
Road work and snow removal ranked as important in citizen survey

But residents also expressed dissatisfaction with each

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

Most Read