Forest fire officials say fire bans being ignored in northwestern Ontario
Natural resources ministry spokesperson says people 'taking the law into their own hands'
Wildfire officials in northwestern Ontario say some people have been caught disobeying an ongoing restricted fire zone in the region that bans outdoor fires.
- Wildfire risk 'high to extreme' in northwest Ontario, fire bans issued
- Restricted fire zone in effect for northwestern Ontario
- Fireworks allowed in Thunder bay despite fire ban
The fire ban has been in effect for just over two weeks, and in that time, conservation officers with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry have caught people burning camp fires and bonfires, said Deb MacLean, a fire information officer.
"I think sometimes people may think 'well, it rained a little bit here .... or I have a nice fire pit that'll work,'" she told CBC News on Monday.
"I think they're taking the law into their own hands in a way by deciding on their own to have a fire when there's legislation in place saying that's against the law."
There's legislation in place saying that's against the law.- Deb MacLean, fire information officer
According to the ministry's web site, failure to comply with a fire ban can result in a fine of up to $1,000, three months in jail or covering the costs of fighting any resulting blazes.
A number of new forest fires were reported in the northwest over the long weekend, MacLean said, adding that some were caused by lightning and others were human-caused. Most required some form of suppression by air and ground, she said.
The fire hazard ranges from moderate to extreme across most of the region.
"Conservation officers are out on patrol in the morning, the afternoon and in the evening and they're encountering people who are not recognizing the extreme danger that's involved with those outdoor fires in these conditions," MacLean said.
Forest fires still burning
In addition to the new blazes, firefighters continue to battle a pair of large fires in the region that straddle the Ontario-Manitoba boundary.
One of those fires in the Kenora district is now being classified by the ministry as being held at about 5,800 hectares. That fire forced the evacuation of the community of Ingolf, Ont. earlier in May.
Residents have since been allowed to return, and the ministry is reporting no structures in Ontario were damaged or destroyed. The cause of that fire is still under investigation.
Crews are also fighting another, much larger, fire mostly burning in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park. MacLean said that blaze is about 63,000 hectares in size on the Ontario side of the border alone.