Thunder Bay

Forest fire season in northwestern Ontario officially over, season report released

Although there were fewer forest fires in 2016 across Ontario than the ten-year provincial average, fire fighters were kept busy with challenging blazes this season, according to the year end report from the Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services (AFFES).

Report says Kenora and Geraldton fires two of the most severe in the region

Firefighters in northwestern Ontario were busy all summer, with particularly severe blazes in Kenora and Geraldton. (CBC)

Although there were fewer forest fires in 2016 across Ontario than the ten-year provincial average, fire fighters were kept busy with challenging blazes this season, according to the year end report from the Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services (AFFES).

The report said that AFFES recorded 636 fires with 83,009.5 hectares burned, compared to last season which saw 667 fires and 39,311 hectares burned.

The report cites both human-caused fires that needed aggressive ground and air attack to contain, as well as fires caused by lightning,

Nipigon District Fire 12, which forced an evacuation in Geraldton, Ont., and Kenora District Fire 18 were two of the most severe in the northwestern region.

The fire in the Kenora district started May 5 in Manitoba and crossed into Ontario near Ingolf Lake.  Water bombers from both provinces were required for the initial attack.  Evacuations were conducted in areas affected by the fire, and an Emergency Area Order was put in place, with travel restrictions on roads leading into the evacuated areas.

In total, the Northwest Region recorded 215 fires consuming just under 79,109.2 hectares of bush. 

As well, during the course of the fire season, a total of 126 Ontario FireRangers, and 49 support personnel, helped suppress forest fires in Alberta, for an equivalent of 2910 days worked.

Meanwhile, Ontario had help from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Minnesota, Newfoundland, Wisconsin and British Columbia to battle blazes in this province.  

The annual report also addresses the costs associated with fires. To date, the fire program has spent approximately $106.9 million on fire fighting activities within the province.

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