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Northwest wildfires strain resources: MNRF

Aug 01, 2018 11:49AM ● By Editor
There were 106 wildfires burning in the Northwest as of noon on July 31. Kenora Fire 71, pictured, was listed at more than 10,200 hectares in size. (MNRF/Submitted)

From CBC News · July 31, 2018

The wildfire season in the Northwest region continues to keep firefighters busy.

There were 22 new fire starts on July 30, bringing the overall number of fires burning in the area to 106, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) said. Twenty of those wildfires are classified as not under control.

The number of fires is starting to strain firefighting resources, the MNRF said.

"Unlike earlier in the fire season, where a lot of our region's fire activity was focused in the far north, that focus is shifting somewhat to the more southern districts, where we typically see a more human presence on the landscape, which in turn influences the urgency of response," said MNRF fire information officer Chris Marchand.

Rotating crews

"That kind of fire load does add strain to our resources, particularly in our type one fire ranger crews," he said. "At the moment, they're rotating some of those crews off of larger fires in order to get some initial attack on some of the new fire starts, before they become larger problems."

Marchand said type one crews have the most training, and are typically first on the ground at a new fire, or are able to get protective measures up to protect buildings or infrastructure.

Type two firefighters, meanwhile, are most-often contracted by service providers, and are used for sustained attack, or the "mop-up" phase.

No further starts had been reported as of noon on July 31. Marchand said that's normal, as the day hadn't entered what's known as the "burning period" yet.

Extreme hazard in Kenora, Dryden, Fort Frances

"Typically, we see most of our new starts from about 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.," he said. "That's when the winds are higher, the humidity drops during those hours."

No communities in the Northwest are under direct threat from any fires, but smoke could be an issue, depending on the direction of the wind.

The fire hazard, meanwhile, is extreme in the Kenora, Dryden, and Fort Frances districts, and high in the Thunder Bay and North Shore areas of the Nipigon District, Marchand said.

The hazard in Red Lake district is low, due to recent rainfall.

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