THUNDER BAY – The latest updates from the Ministry of Natural Resources our out on the fire hazard in Northern Ontario. Conditions in Northwestern Ontario have been reduced to minimal allowing resources and crews to head east to help fight fires in the Northeastern region of Ontario.
MNR reports that “Thursday May 24 was an extreme burning day in the Northeast Region. Strong gusting winds led to significant growth on the Timmins 9 fire and caused control problems with several new starts. Additional highway closures and evacuations resulted from this fire activity. In total, 16 new fires arrived in the province Thursday and several demonstrated aggressive behaviour.
“Fire Timmins 9 demonstrated extreme behaviour and spread significantly on Thursday. It is now remapped at 31,660 hectares. Smoke and ash from the fire led to the closure of the Timmins airport. Continued wind and weather conditions will likely cause the fire to continue growing. Additional resources are being deployed to the fire. Crews continue working on values protection and 500 sprinkler kits have been put in place on values near the fire. The City of Timmins has declared an emergency and has also instituted a water ban. Smoke and ash will continue to be concerns for the Timmins area; smoke from the fire may also reach Kirkland Lake. Additional precautionary evacuations have taken place. An update on evacuations can be found on the Emergency Management Ontario website.
“New fires of concern include Kirkland Lake 13 at 1,000 hectares and Kirkland Lake 11 at 58 hectares. Kirkland Lake 13 caused the evacuation of 30 people from a lodge near Matachewan and Elk Lake. The fire is being managed by the same Incident Management Team that is working on Kirkland Lake 8. Another fire, Wawa 17 grew to 150 hectares and received aggressive air attack.
“Fire Kirkland Lake 8 showed activity on Thursday but suppression efforts have been successful. The fire is not posing a threat to Kirkland Lake at this time, though it may continue to be active. FireRangers and helicopters are locating hotspots on the fire and extinguishing them. The Goldthorpe Road and Goodfish Road areas remain evacuated at this time. The evacuation status will be reassessed on Saturday May 26.
“No relief from extreme burning conditions is expected in the Northeast until at least Sunday. Fire arrivals will continue to pile up in the east of the province and existing fires will show active behaviour. Rain has brought the fire hazard to minimal levels in the Northwest. Over the last few days, 39 FireRanger crews have moved from the west to the east”.
There are presently 15 waterbombers, four Twin Otter aircraft and 56 helicopters working in the province. There are approximately 1,300 personnel working on the provincial fire situation—including 102 from outside Ontario.