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New wildlife experience for NPWS firie

GOOD TO BE HOME: Peter Le Breton, from Pillar Valley, has returned from firefighting duty in Canada with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
GOOD TO BE HOME: Peter Le Breton, from Pillar Valley, has returned from firefighting duty in Canada with the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Adam Hourigan

WHEN you're fighting fires in Australia, you don't have to think about black bears tracking you though the forest, but that isn't the case in British Columbia.

National Parks and Wildlife Service's Peter LeBreton has returned to the Clarence Valley after spending an intense month fighting the Elephant Hill fire in Canada alongside many other Australians.

Mr LeBreton said the wildfires were enormous and extremely dangerous.

"They grew to something like 197,000ha, which is a huge area, some of the fires were travelling each day from 10 to 20 kilometres," he said.

"The main thing was holding the fire.

"Some people expect to go in and back burn and try to control the fire by Australia's way of controlling fire, where as this fire was unpredictable, it continued to track and it was very dangerous."

Beginning his career with National Parks in 1977, Mr LeBreton is a seasoned firefighter with experience battling blazes all over Australia and North America.

"This time I went away as a divisional commander, which is like a fire boss, specialising in the suppression of fire," he said.

While the fires were dangerous, there were new things Australian fire- fighters like Mr LeBreton had to worry about.

"One day one of the fellas worked back to get some equipment... and he was looking along the ground and bear prints were around," he said.

"Bears were actually following because they could probably smell our packs with our food.

"Black bears were a real issue, especially mothers with young cubs."

Mr LeBreton said he feels like he has one of the best jobs there is because every day is different.

"We could be doing anything on any different day," he said.



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