Ontario forest fires cost taxpayers less in 2013

Taxpayers shelled out a lot less for fighting forest fires in northern Ontario this year.

Just over $110 million spent on firefighting operations

A photo of Red Lake District Fire 31, taken July 31. (Ministry of Natural Resources)

Taxpayers shelled out a lot less for fighting forest fires in northern Ontario this year.

Now that the fire season has just ended, the Ministry of Natural Resources reports it spent slightly more than $110 million on firefighting operations — that's $60 million less than last year.

There were fewer than 600 fires, barely one-third last season's total.

That number is about half the yearly average from the last decade.

The biggest fire of 2013 was Red Lake #31, as seen in the accompanying picture. The blaze started July 3 in the Pikangikum White Feather Forest.

Ranger crews from all over Ontario were dispatched to the fire, which wasn’t officially declared “out” until more than two months later. The fire scorched nearly 19,000 hectares of land.

Northwest Region 2013 fire activity summary by district

DistrictTotal # of firesTotal hectares burned
Dryden3920.1
Kenora5648.1
Fort Frances2320.7
Thunder Bay36106.7
Sioux Lookout6811,050.7
Red Lake6922,270.9
Nipigon (Greenstone)6610,607.0
Total35744,124.2
Prescribed Burns375.0

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