Minnesota sending firefighters to battle wildfires in Canada

Minnesota firefighters are headed up north to help with the wildfire fight in Manitoba. (Minnesota DNR / Supplied)

A crew of Minnesota firefighters is headed up north to help contain wildfires burning in Canada.

Governor Tim Walz announced Monday that 17 firefighters from the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids would join the battle in Manitoba.

The mutual aid comes after a request from Manitoba under the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact, an agreement between Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Manitoba, and Ontario.

Large fires burning across Canada have been a problem early in the wildfire season, leading to plumes of smoke that have stretched to Europe at times. The smoky air has also led to multiple air quality alerts for Minnesota and beyond.

"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 Minnesota crew will start in Winnipeg for briefing before traveling out to remote parts of northern Manitoba. Their main role is expected to be cutting fire containment lines to prevent wildfire spread.

This is the first time the Minnesota DNR has sent fire crews to Canada since 2019.