Northwestern Ontario Wildfire Update – May 29 2016

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Red Lake District Fire Number 003, located within Woodland Caribou Provincial Park has exhibited extreme fire behaviour throughout its progress. This extreme behaviour is expected to continue, challenging firefighting efforts in Ontario and Manitoba.

THUNDER BAY – A wet weather weekend has helped slow wildfires, and will cause authorities to assess the Restricted Fire Zone currently in place across the region.

There were no new fires confirmed by the afternoon of May 29 in the Northwest Region. Widespread rain fell across the region May 28 and 29 keeping all of the ongoing forest fires in check. The fire hazard is low across the region.

  • Red 003 remains at a status of not under control. An Incident Management Team is managing this fire. Forty fire fighters from British Columbia are currently assigned to Red 03.
  • Nipigon 15 about 11 kilometers East of Lansdowne House is not under control at 145 hectares. It is receiving a modified response were firefighters are placed in strategic locations on the fire – in this case the west and north sections. It also received about 20 millimeters of rain on the weekend.
  • Nipigon 13 near the Geraldton airport is being held
  • Thunder Bay 19 is listed as being held, and fire fighters from Wisconsin are currently deployed there.
  • Kenora 18 is now listed as under control and is in the process of demobilizing resources.

Provincial Firefighting Resources – Out of Province

Ontario provides firefighting resources outside of the province, and when needed brings in resources from other provinces, the territories or the United States.

Firefighting resources in Canada, including personnel, aircraft and equipment, are shared through formal agreement and coordinated by the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center in Winnipeg.

Canada also has agreements in place to share resources for fire suppression with the United States. One such agreement is through the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact made up of three US states and two provincial natural resource agencies to promote effective prevention, pre-suppression and control of forest fires in the Great Lakes Region of the United States and adjacent areas of Canada.

  • 131 fire response personnel are in Ontario supporting the firefighting effort. They are from British Columbia, Newfoundland and Wisconsin
  • Saskatchewan heavy water bomber and Birddog team will be released from Ontario to return home
  • Two flight coordinators from Ontario have been deployed to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre in Winnipeg to assist in coordinating national aircraft for interprovincial / international movements of firefighting staff.
  • Ontario has 85 personnel deployed to Alberta

Emergency Area Orders – travel restrictions

Red Lake Fire 003

An emergency area order is in place over Red 003 and travel restriction are in place. These restrictions are scheduled to be removed at 08:30 a.m. on Monday, May 30. Travel will then be allowed on the Iriam Loop Road including all Branch Roads off the Iriam Loop Road.

Thunder Bay Fire 019

An emergency area order is in place over Thunder Bay 019. Until further notice, all travel and use is prohibited on the Dog River Road northward from the junction of the Dog River Road and Sideen Road; the Dog River Road southward from the junction of the Dog River Road and the Chismore Road, and the Pakashkan Road southward from the junction of the Pakashkan Road and the Chismore Road. Also, all use and occupation of Crown Land on or within 500 meters of the described closed roads noted above within this area is prohibited.

Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles around Forest Fires

We remind the public that flying Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) around forest fires is both dangerous and illegal. When you fly a UAV or drone near a forest fire you can put the lives of pilots, firefighters and other emergency workers at risk. The delays and distractions associated with having one of these aircraft in the area could also put the lives of the public and the safety of their homes at risk when a forest fire is being actioned.  Always think safety first and keep your UAV or drone away from forest fires. The following are the airspace restrictions for all aircraft over forest fires.

Forest Fire Aircraft Operating Restrictions

601.15 No person shall operate an aircraft

  • (a)over a forest fire area, or over any area that is located within five nautical miles of a forest fire area, at an altitude of less than 3,000 feet AGL; or
  • (b)in any airspace that is described in a NOTAM issued pursuant to section 601.16.

Transport Canada is responsible for regulating the use of UAVs and keeping the public and our airspace safe. If an incident is reported to the department, one of Transport Canada’s inspectors will verify that the operator followed the rules and whether the UAV safety guidelines were followed and fines could be as much as 25,000 dollars or imprisonment. Local police may also be involved if other laws were broken, including the Criminal Code and privacy laws.

Safe operation of UAVs information can be found on Transport Canada’s Website.

In Canada, the official designation for unmanned aircraft is Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) however Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), drones, etc. were used in the past, now collectively these designations are classified as UAV’s.  The actual flying aircraft may still be called UAV, ROA, RPA, drone, etc. by the general public, operators and users. With more and more people flying UAV’s commercially or simply for the fun of flying, the exposure to possible airspace incursions involving an UAV have increased.

Aircraft flight restrictions over Red Lake fire 

There is a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) advisory in place for Red Lake District Fire Number 003 regarding flight operations over the fires, including the Woodland Caribou Provincial Park area west of Red Lake.

Pilots can access the information for the Red Lake advisories here . Aircraft requiring authorization to enter or depart the NOTAM area can contact the following: Red Lake Fire Management Headquarters  – 807-727-2055  Firefighting aircraft are using and monitoring VHF-AM Frequency 122.40 within both restricted flight areas.

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

To view the Restricted Fire Zone Map online go to this page and select Restricted Fire Zones as a layer.

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

Woodland Caribou Provincial Park – 807-727-1329

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