After a busy summer, South Cariboo Regional Airport manager is prepping his snow removal fleet for the winter. (Melissa Smalley photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

After a busy summer, South Cariboo Regional Airport manager is prepping his snow removal fleet for the winter. (Melissa Smalley photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Record fuel numbers at 108 airport over summer

Close to half a million litres of fuel pumped during wildfires

The South Cariboo Regional Airport pumped out close to half a million litres of fuel during this summer’s wildfire season, one of the busiest for the airports in recent years.

As one of the main fuel locations for aircraft battling dozens of fires in the South Cariboo in July and August, airport manager Ross Donahue said the final tally came in at just over 478,000 litres, which translates to roughly $700,000 in fuel.

The airport at 108 Mile Ranch saw a record day Aug. 13, when 20,380 litres of fuel were pumped out.

“That day for whatever reason they were using up a lot more,” Donahue said, noting there were also fuel tanks on hand at Canim Lake and Dog Creek.

“Just depending on what they were doing and where they were going that day, we happened to be the quick spot to stop at.”

Despite the busier than average summer at the airport, Donahue said that overall flight counts are roughly what they were at this time last year. He said on the airport’s busiest days during the wildfires, Transport Canada stepped in to limit the amount of non-forestry air traffic.

READ MORE: New manager on board at 108 Airport

“When the fires were close and the helicopters were going non-stop, you couldn’t come in here without receiving permission from forestry,” Donahue explained. “That slowed down the general aviation a little bit, in the interest of safety.”

Medi-vac flights are up slightly from last year, however, which Donahue attributes to longterm care patients being moved throughout the region during the evacuations.

As the weather starts to turn and things slow down at the airport commission is returning its attention to the much-needed resurfacing of the runway, a job that has been on the radar for more than five years.

A $2 million grant application with the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program was not successful, according to Cariboo Regional District Area L Director Al Richmond, who said the cost of the project is estimated at $5 million.

“It’s the kind of price tag that is very difficult to get funding for,” Richmond said. “But it needs to be done properly, and a grant would enable us to do that. Otherwise, I don’t know what the commission is going to do.”

Richmond said that funds have been allocated from the airport’s budget towards the repaving project, but with the “staggering amount” that the job will cost, federal aid will be necessary to get it done.

In the meantime, Donahue said that crack sealing is taking place on the runways to prevent too much moisture from getting underneath the asphalt.

“We’re maintaining as best we can with what we’ve got for now,” he said.

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