Forest Fires Impacting Northern Communities

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Active Fires
Red markers point to active fires across Ontario
THUNDER BAY – It is possible that smoke from fires across the Northwest may make it into Thunder Bay by later today. Currently there are 92 active fires burning across the province. The Ministry of Natural Resources reports that “Smoke can be seen high in the sky across most of northern Ontario today, spreading as far as Newfoundland/Labrador and into New Brunswick. Wind direction is expected to shift periodically over the next few days, which may move smoke further south in into Kenora, Thunder Bay and Winnipeg”.

The smoke is causing problems across Northwestern Ontario. In many cases smoke is impacting air travel in the North as smoke is limiting the airlines. Yesterday flights from Landsdowne to Thunder Bay were left on standby before finally being cancelled. For people in Northern communities hoping to fly out the weather is going to likely be a factor.

Two hundred fifty residents of Sandy Lake First Nation are being evacuated to Thunder Bay this afternoon due to smoke from forest fires.

“We expect this will be a long and difficult day for the folks evacuating from Sandy Lake and we are glad to be able to provide a home away from home,” said Mayor Keith Hobbs. “We will work with community leaders from Sandy Lake to provide for the comfort of their people.” Sandy Lake has 650 residents that require evacuation with the first group going to Sioux Lookout this morning.

The Victoria Inn has indicated it has enough hotel rooms to accommodate the evacuees until they are able to safely return home.

The local coordinating team including the City of Thunder Bay, Police, Fire & Rescue, Thunder Bay District Health Unit, Superior North EMS and Canadian Red Cross, has met to make necessary arrangements. The team will deal with evacuee requirements as they emerge.

The forest fire hazard remains extremely high in Ontario with significant growth on fires and troublesome smoke issues for many communities in the Northwest.

Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services continues with aggressive suppression activity, assistance on community evacuation plans as well as a concentrated effort for the safety of residents, workers and values. Heat and high humidex will be an issue for anyone working outside today.

There are 92 active fires burning in Ontario. There were 13 new fires yesterday and this daily trend is expected to continue.

Smoke on the ground is variable throughout the day but is consistently creating issues for many First Nations communities with no long-term relief in sight.