Thunder Bay

Ontario forest fire season off to a slow start thanks to wet weather

Forest fire officials in northwestern Ontario say the decidedly cold, wet weather across most of the province this spring has had a dampening effect on the start of the forest fire season.

56 fires burned 44 hectares as of May 19, compared to 10-year average of 170 fires, 12,000 hectares

Wildfire officials in Ontario say the 2017 forest fire season is off to a slow start. (AFFES / MNRF)

Forest fire officials in northwestern Ontario say the decidedly wet, cool weather across most of the province this spring has had a dampening effect on the start of the forest fire season.

"The weather has been rainy and cold at times which has lowered the fire hazard across the northwest region," said Jonathan Scott, a fire information officer with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.  "That's led to a decreased amount of fire starts."

As of May 19, Scott said only 56 small fires had been reported in Ontario this year, burning 44 hectares. The 10-year average typically sees over 170 fires burning about 12,000 hectares.

"As it stands now, it is a slower start to the fire season," Scott said.

Despite that slow start, Scott said fire hazards will increase as the forests dry out, and the weather gets warmer.

Ministry officials reminded people going into the bush to build camp fires in areas sheltered from the wind on bare soil or exposed rock and to keep them small. Scott added that the fires should be attended to at all times and water and a shovel should be kept nearby.

As of May 22, the ministry reported the fire hazard as low across the majority of Ontario. The far northwest corner of the province had a medium fire hazard.

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