Northwestern Ontario Wildfire Update – May 9 2016

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MNRF Water Bomber at Pickle Lake Airport
MNRF Water Bomber at Pickle Lake Airport

MNRF Water Bomber at Pickle Lake Airport
MNRF Water Bomber at Pickle Lake Airport

THUNDER BAY – WILDFIRE – The wildfire situation in Northwestern Ontario is ramping up. There were five new confirmed fires in the Northwest Region by the evening of May 09 including one in the Fort Frances District, two in the Kenora District and two in the Red Lake District.

By day’s end on May 08 a total of eight new fires were confirmed including four in the Dryden District, three in the Kenora District and one in the Thunder Bay Districts.

Immediate initial attack on the fires meant most new fires were declared under control or out within 24 hours.

One fire of note is Kenora 018, in the Ingolf area about 55 kilometers west of Kenora. It was last estimated at 2,800 hectares in size on the morning of May 09, and is not under control. Further growth on this fire is expected as it continues to show extreme fire behaviour under dry and windy conditions. Winds pushed the fire northwesterly on May 09. Earlier in the week the fire had been pushed southeasterly.

An Incident Management Team has been assigned to the fire which has had continuous air attack with CL-415 heavy water bombers and Ontario FireRangers are working on ground attack, working to establish hose lines around the perimeter of the fire.

Another fire of note is Red Lake Fire 003 which is listed as not under control with an estimated size of 40,000 hectares on the Ontario side and a total of 50,000 hectares combined with Ontario and Manitoba as this fire too is straddling the border between the two provinces.

This Ontario portion of the fire is located in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park and Ontario Parks strongly cautions people to avoid the southwest portion of the park while suppression action is under way. Assessment for closures of routes or portage continue so people are advised to check with the park office for updates and information on possible route or access closures. The contact number is 807-727-1329.

Aerial ignition was planned to run from north to south on May 09 but extreme fire behaviour on the north end of the fire pushed it north. Aerial ignition and FireRanger crews taking limited suppression action on the fire then focused on the south end of the fire.

Smoky conditions are expected to continue in the region. The location of the smoke drift will depend on wind direction.

Restricted Fire Zone

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has declared a Restricted Fire Zone in much of Northwestern Ontario to reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires.

Effective May 07 at 0001 daylight time, the Restricted Fire Zone was put in place and will remain in effect until conditions improve.  

Under the Restricted Fire Zone all open fires are prohibited.  Campfires may be allowed at some organized campgrounds or parks that use approved fire pits and meet certain other criteria.  Campers should check with the owners or operators first.  Within the Restricted Fire Zone area, people can still use portable gas stoves for cooking and warmth but the public is asked to exercise extreme caution.  Fire staff and conservation officers will strictly enforce the restrictions on open burning.

Emergency Area Order – restricted travel on designated roads 

An Emergency Area Order has been declared in the Kenora District over Kenora Fire 018. The fire has road restrictions under this Emergency Area Order. All travel and use of the Gundy Lake Road from the Junction north of Hwy 17 is prohibited; White Road is closed at the intersection of the White Road and the Malachi Lake Road; the Ingolf Road at the Ontario Manitoba border. Travel is prohibited unless authorized by a travel permit issued by the Kenora District of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. All use and occupation of Crown Land on or within 500 meters of the described closed roads above is prohibited. This Order came into effect at 4:35 PM Central Daylight Time on May 6, 2016 and will remain in effect until such time as the order is revoked.

Out of Province

Ontario deployed 82 personnel on the afternoon of May 6 to support firefighting efforts in Alberta.

For more information about the current fire situation, the active fires map and the restricted fire zones go to ontario.ca/forestfire

Information Lines

The Northwest Region Fire Information Hotline is available for general information updates – 1-888-258-8842

Kenora Fire 018 Public Information – 807-548-1919

Woodland Caribou Provincial Park – 807-727-1329

Report forest fires by calling 310-FIRE (3473).