Forest fire update: Parry Sound 33 grows again, affected residents remain on standby

There were no new fires in northeastern Ontario reported by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry on Sunday, but crews continue to battle 39 active forest fires. Twelve of those fires are not yet under control, including the one known as Parry Sound 33.

Forest fire now 8,224 hectares in size, smoky conditions expected

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry continues to battle the forest fire known as Parry Sound 33. On Sunday, the fire grew to over 8,220 hectares. (Twitter/@ONForestFires)

There were no new fires reported by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry on Sunday, but crews continue to battle 39 active forest fires across northeastern Ontario.

Twelve of those fires are not yet under control, including Parry Sound 33, which has caused the evacuation of Key Harbour and Henvey Inlet First Nation.

Ontario's forest fire information map showed Sunday morning the fire had grown to about 8,224 hectares in size.

Winds blowing from the southwest kept crews busy along the portion closest to Highway 69. The ministry said the fire was still about seven kilometres from the highway early Sunday morning.

"Priority remains along the northeast side of the fire with fingers extending towards the CN rail line, as minimal movement occurred across the tracks. Minimal growth along the southwest portion of the fire occurred," the MNRF said.

"Hose lay and containment will resume along the northern portion as crews will look to secure that area. The southwest winds are expected to continue tomorrow, possibly bringing heavy smoke conditions periodically into surrounding communities and along Highway 69."

Evacuation orders for Henvey Inlet First Nation, home to about 200 people, will remain in place until at least next Friday.

Jim Rook, the municipality of Killarney's emergency manager, said he'll be visiting the ministry's temporary firefighting headquarters in Britt, about 70 kilometres north of Parry Sound, on Monday.

Rook noted people in the area are anxious to get back to their homes and cottages, but that firefighters still have work to do. He added evacuation orders are likely to be similarly extended for the Key, Pickerel and French rivers west of Highway 69.

"It will be a fair time, I think, before we're all happy with [the situation]," says Rook. "But they've put all kinds of resources at it, which is great." 

People on Hartley Bay Road, just north of the evacuated areas, remain on high alert.

"I think things are now moving in the right direction. I must admit though that Mother Nature has a way of humbling us," stated Rook.

Extra hands on deck

In Parry Sound, area volunteers stepped up over the weekend after the MNRF contracted a food order from the Sobeys grocery store in Parry Sound.

With firefighting crews set to arrive in Britt last Friday, store owner Matthew Derouin needed extra hands to help pack the goods and ship them out early Saturday.​​ He says the initial order totalled over $20,000.

Derouin put out a call on social media and was expecting around 50 volunteers to show up.

Over 200 volunteers answered a last-minute call to help pack food purchased from a Parry Sound grocery store by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for firefighters based in Britt. (Facebook/Parry Sound Sobeys)

"It ended up being well over 200 people," said Derouin. "It was just incredible."

He also described what goes into a "48-hour kit" of food, like the ones sent to forest firefighters in Britt.

"Each 48-hour kit supplies a four-man frontline crew for two days," Derouin said. "Mostly high-protein meals, things that will keep them fed and their energy levels high. We definitely sent out some striploin steaks and centre-loin pork chops. They've got to have those meals with the work they're doing."

Derouin added it all must be "very strategically packed ... there's not a lot of room in these boxes for the amount of food that's going out."

A total of 34 kits were sent out Saturday, equal to two days' worth of food for 136 frontline workers. Derouin said an additional 15 to 20 kits will be shipped out on Monday.

Parks in Temagami area set to re-open

Grundy Lake Provincial Park was evacuated over the weekend, with about 800 campers having to leave.

"We hope to reopen the park as soon as it is safe to do so," Ontario Parks states on its website. "We will be reassessing again on July 30 if further cancellations are required."

The forest fire known as Parry Sound 33 grew to 8,224 hectares in size from Saturday into Sunday, and winds blowing from the southwest will keep crews busy along the portion closest to Highway 69. (Dan Leonard/Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry)

Meanwhile, the Temagami area, where forest fires came within a few kilometres of town earlier this month, received some good news.​

Finlayson Point Provincial Park in Temagami is set to re-open on Monday, according to the Ontario Parks website. Marten River Provincial Park, about 40 kilometres south, is supposed to follow suit on Wednesday.

Below is information on some of the other fires in the northeast, including the massive one still ongoing in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park.

Lady Evelyn Fire Cluster

  • North Bay Fire 072 remains at 27,579 hectares and is listed as not under control.
  • A little bit of smoke was observed on the fire later in the afternoon and we anticipate that will increase over the next few days as the weather returns to seasonal values with temperatures reaching the mid to high 20s.
  • Twelve pieces of heavy equipment are assigned to this fire
  •  There are 11 helicopters assigned to this cluster.

River Valley Cluster

  • Crews made solid progress on all fires today.
  • North Bay 62 was deemed under control this morning. 
  • On North Bay 42, crews worked on the north side today and made good progress. 
  • North Bay 025 is also under control. 

Pembroke Fire Cluster

  • Good progress continues to be made on all fires in this cluster.
  • Pembroke 5 continues to exhibit minimal fire activity. Since yesterday this fire is being held at 37.5 hectares.
  • Pembroke 6 showed very little growth today. Crews are now fully established on the south, west and east flanks of this fire. Crews are still working to contain the 697 hectare fire.
  • Being held at 72.5 hectares, crews on Pembroke 7 are working toward the centre of this fire, expanding the control line.
  • With excellent progress being made in difficult terrain, Algonquin Park 11 was upgraded to being held earlier today. It's listed at 34.2 hectares

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