Four NWT firefighters headed Down Under to help with Australia wildfires

Spencer Porter, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, will be deployed in Australia as an Air Tanker Base Manager. (photo courtesy of ENR)

Four firefighting specialists from the Northwest Territories are to leave Thursday and Friday for Australia to help battle the devastating wildfires Down Under.

The Government of the NWT is sending the four wildfire personnel as part of a Canadian contingent traveling to Australia to help with efforts to contain wildfires burning across the country.

The following Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) personnel are being exported through an agreement with the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC):

– Marlon Labach, Air Support Group Supervisor

– Raelene Lamalice of Hay River, Resource Unit Leader

– Spencer Porter of Fort Smith, Air Tanker Base Manager

– Jonathan Williams, Aerial Observer

ENR did not provide hometowns for Labach or Williams.

They will be departing from Vancouver, and are expected to be deployed for a total of 30 days.

In an email, the GNWT states it is proud to be part of the Canadian contingent supporting the wildfire response in Australia.

“Northerners understand the dangers of wildfire and the devastation they can cause,” ENR spokesperson Joslyn Oosenbrug stated. “Every year, our communities are impacted by wildfire, and the NWT has recently experienced several challenging fire seasons.”

Meanwhile, as CKLB News reported first, a former Fort Simpson resident is among dozens of Canadians who are already in Australia to help battle wildfires.


Raelene Lamalice of Hay River, Resource Unit Leader

– Spencer Porter, of Fort Smith, Air Tanker Base Manager

Tanya Letcher is there but it’s not entirely clear which part of Australia she’s been posted to or exactly what her role is.

According to her Linkedin internet account, Tanya is a Wildfire Training Specialist at the Alberta government’s Environment and Sustainable Resource Development branch.

She also once worked for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) with the Government of the Northwest Territories.

Fort Simpson’s Tanya Letcher with a baby Koala from her Facebook page

We’ve been endeavouring to speak with her but without success so far.

She has posted a photo of herself on Facebook with a koala bear.

The iconic species has been devastated be the fires.




About the Author

John McFadden
John has been in the broadcast journalism industry since the 1980s. He has been a reporter in Yellowknife since 2012 and joined CKLB in January of 2018. John covers the crime and court beat as well as reporting on other areas including politics, business, entertainment and sports. He won seven national community newspaper awards while he was a journalist with Northern News Services Limited (NNSL). John worked in Ontario before coming North including stints as a TV sportscaster in Peterborough and senior news writer for CBC and CTV in downtown Toronto.