09/19/2011 11:39 EDT | Updated 11/19/2011 05:12 EST

B.C.'s slow wildfire season keeps specialized planes on the ground

KAMLOOPS, B.C. - Specialized planes used to dump water on forest fires spent more time on the runway than in the air during one of B.C.'s quietest wildfire seasons.

Spokesman Ed Lussier (lucy-ay) says seven airtanker groups flew a total of 61 missions while stationed in the province over the summer.

He says that compares to 554 missions flown by the big planes last year.

Lussier calls 2011 the quietest fire season in B.C. in recent memory.

Four of the airtanker groups have now returned to home bases outside the province, while the remaining three planes will stay until the end of September.

Statistics from the Wildfire Management Branch show a total of 576 fires charred 120 square kilometres of bush since April 1, with a single, remote blaze in the northwest fire district responsible for all but 10-square kilometres of the damage. (CHNL)