Thunder Bay

Deep snow and soggy spring led to a slow forest fire season in northwestern Ontario

Plenty of rainfall and lingering spring snowpack helped keep forest fires in check during the 2022 fire season, after more than a thousand fires burned thousands of hectares of land in 2021.

Region saw 82 forest fires this year, significantly lower than the year before

Snowpack and a wet spring contributed to a very slow forest fire season in northwestern Ontario. (Ontario Forest Fires/Twitter)

Plenty of rainfall and lingering spring snowpack helped keep forest fires in check during the 2022 fire season.

This season saw just 82 forest fires reported in northwestern Ontario, burning 113 hectares.

The season was far slower than the record-breaking 2021: Overall, there were 1,198 fires reported in Ontario last year, most of which were located in northwestern Ontario.

In total, 2021's fires burned more than 784,000 hectares across Ontario, said Chris Marchand, fire information officer with the Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services regional fire centre in Dryden.

"It's a really good example of the variability we can experience in the severity of fire seasons from year to year," Marchand said.

Marchand said record spring rainfall in the northwest, coupled with lingering snow, contributed to the slow fire season.

Precipitation through the summer also played a role, he said, as it all contributed to wet conditions that "really discouraged lightning strikes from developing into wildland fires."

"In a typical season in the northwest, lightning would be the dominant form of of ignition for a forest fire," Marchand said. "This was not really the case in 2022, where we had human-caused fires outnumbering those caused by lightning."

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