Wind conditions keep Kirkland Lake fire at bay for now
About 300 residents still on evacuation orders from homes at north end of city, closest to fire
More helicopters and water bombers will fill the skies above Kirkland Lake today, as a forest fire continues to burn about three kilometres outside of town.
The fire is close enough that emergency officials continue to plan for a possible evacuation of the town.
But MNR spokesperson Rick Gordon said he hopes it doesn't come to that.
Nevertheless, "the town is quite confident that with the lead time we would be giving them that they could conduct a safe and organized evacuation, if that becomes necessary," Gordon said.
Already 300 people have been forced from their homes north of the town, which is closer to the fire.
Officials said it could be a few days — or even up to a week — before they can go home.
Bruce Smith is one of those evacuees. He parks his travel trailer at a lake outside the town each summer. Not long after settling in, he got a knock on the door.
"I had two full nights [there], which kind of sucks," he said.
The forest fire was closing in, so he had to leave his trailer behind.
"As far as I know right now, [the trailer is] ok," Smith said. "Time will tell."
Another evacuee, Brian Clark, said people are pitching in to make sure everyone has somewhere to sleep.
"Our friends invited us out to their house on Larder Lake and we stayed in their granny flat. It has a beautiful view of Larder Lake, so we still have the lake," he said with a laugh.
In July, 1916, a 60 kilometre-wide forest fire just north of Kirkland Lake killed an estimated 273 people. "The Great Fire of 1916" remains the deadliest forest fire in Canadian history.
Source: Ontario Heritage Trust
Emergency officials will not put a timeline on when people like Clark will be able to go home.
So far, the wind is co-operating and the fire remains about three kilometres away from the town — and fire crews are working to keep it that way.
But if the wind direction changes, officials said they are ready to move all 10,000 people in the area to safer ground.