Thunder Bay

Forest fire reports up this season in Ontario

Ontario's forest fire fighters are fairly busy this year.

Ontario's forest fire fighters have been fairly busy this year.

So far this season, more than 365 forest fires have been reported in Ontario.

By this time last year, there were about 340 fires.

Despite the provincial jump, however, things are relatively slow in Northwestern Ontario, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Fire Information Officer Deb MacLean said.

Last week, MacLean said, "There's one in the Red Lake District, Red Lake Number Three, which is inside Woodland Caribou Provincial Park. We also have two in the northern sectors of the Sioux Lookout district."

MacLean says the Sioux Lookout fires were caused by lightning.

That was also the case with two new fires in the Nipigon district that joined the active fire list since Friday afternoon.

One of them is 30 km west of Neskantaga First Nation...and another is about 30 km east of Wunnumin Lake First Nation.

Cause of Woodland Caribou Provincial Park still unknown

The cause of the fire in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park is unknown, but it is a very large fire, having burned about 73,000 hectares so far. It has not yet been declared out.

"It started on the sixth of May, and burned quite intensely throughout the month of May," MacLean said. "Right now, it is listed as being observed, has been very quiet for certainly the beginning of July and the end of June."

MacLean said Ontario fire crews have all returned from Fort McMurray, and there have been no other requests for assistance.

"One of the things that the crews are able to do when it does get a little quieter, is continue to do extensive training on a variety of different skills for wild land fire suppression," MacLean said. "Also, safety audits are able to be conducted. Crew competitions can go on,to again, increase the skill level of the crews."

She said firefighters can work on forestry-related park projects within the ministry when not fighting wildfires, as well.

However, MacLean said the ministry expects the fire season to pick up.

"In the Northwest region, lightning is definitely the dominant cause of forest fires," she said. "We have been tracking significant lightning, particularly in the southern sectors. Now, we've also had a fair amount of rain to go with that, so the forest fire hazard is low across the southern sectors of Northwestern Ontario, however it is moderate to high in the far north."

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