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Fire season in northwestern Ontario a 'busy year' with over 800 fires, says MNRF

Jul 29, 2018 04:43PM ● By Editor
According to the fire information officer with the MNRF, this year's fire season has been a busy one with over 800 fires province-wide. (MNRF / Twitter)

From CBC News · July 28, 2018

It's been a massive forest fire season across Ontario, with more than 800 fires identified throughout the summer season and 400 of those fires burning in the northwest alone.

According to the fire information officer with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, there are currently 68 fires burning in the northwestern region of the province, with one only new fire identified on Friday.

"Kenora fire 81 was located on Kushog Lake and arose from an improperly extinguished campfire. It was put out by staff of a nearby fishing lodge and reported to the MNRF," Fire Information officer, Chris Marchand stated in an email to CBC News.

Out of 68 fires, eight of them are not under control, while five are under control. One fire is being held, and 54 fires are being observed.

The wet weather during the last few days have helped calm the fire behaviour, Marchand said, as he recently flew over Kenora fire 71, which prompted the evacuation of vulnerable individuals from Wabaseemoong First Nation.

"I was fortunate enough to get out and fly the perimeter of Kenora fire 71 back on July 24 ... [and] the evidence of a pretty spectacular blaze was unmistakable," Marchand explained.

He said compared to last year's forest fire season, we're "seeing a busy year." 

"In the west, we've seen 427 fires out of a total of 823 province wide. That is definitely a significant jump over last year," Marchand said.

He said luckily, most of the fires sparked in the north, and weren't too close to any communities.

The lack of precipitation has been the main concern during this year's fire season, Marchand said.

 "It is apparent that we are having more extreme weather," he said. "We are also seeing very low relative humidity levels, which are unusual for northern Ontario, and we are also seeing the fire season start earlier and drag on a little later."

Currently, there are no First Nation communities that are under a direct threat from any forest fires.

"Smoke drift has definitely been a challenge for multiple communities this year," Marchand said.

No structures have been lost during this year's forest fire season, he said.

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