August 13, 2020: Northwest District Wildfire Update

Photo supplied by MNRF
Photo supplied by MNRF

THUNDER BAY – There are 29 active fires across the region. Eleven of those wildfires are out of control. Two fires are causing issues, Red Lake #49 and Nipigon 45. Three new fires were confirmed in the Northwest Region by the late afternoon of Aug. 13.

  • Nipigon 56 is located in the remote community of Webequie. The 0.1-hectare fire is not under control.
  • Nipigon 57 is located near the eastern shore of Lake Nipigon, approximately 15 kilometers southwest of Beardmore. The 0.1 hectares sized fire is not under control.
  • Sioux Lookout 54 is located near Totogan Lake, approximately 100 kilometers northeast of Pickle Lake. The 0.1-hectare fire is being observed.

At the time of this update, there are 29 active fires in the northwest region. Eleven fires are not under control, one fire is being held, seven fires are under control and 10 fires are being observed. Five fires were declared out today.

Special air quality statement in effect for:

  • Pikangikum – Poplar Hill – MacDowell
  • Pickle Lake – Cat Lake

Elevated pollution levels are expected or occurring.

Possible high levels of air pollution due to smoke from forest fires are expected tonight and Friday. Smoke plumes moving over northern Ontario from forest fires near Red Lake and Fort Hope will likely affect nearby regions. Air quality may deteriorate if the smoke descends to ground level.

Air quality may improve somewhat Friday and Saturday near Red Lake due to expected rainfall tonight and Friday night.

  • The forest fire hazard is high to extreme across the northwest region. Significant rainfall is expected in the region over the next 48 hours.
  • To see the fire hazard near you and to monitor the fire situation in your area, consult the interactive fire map at

Fires of Note:

Red Lake 49

Faced with challenging conditions, firefighters on both the ground and in the air kept the fire from increasing in size on August 12, 2020.

  • Red Lake 49’s current size is 552 ha, a reduction from a previous estimate. Better visibility in the area has allowed AFFES to more accurately map the fire’s perimeter.
  • 20 four-person FireRanger crews are currently committed to suppression on Red Lake 49.
  • Eight helicopters are working to support crews and bucket water onto the fire’s edges.
  • Two CL-415 waterbombers are on standby at Red Lake Airport, to be used as the fire situation requires.
  • Hwy. 105, hydro and communication lines East of the fire have not been impacted
  • The hydro line from Red Lake to Madsen was damaged by fire.
  • The ground operation includes nearly 40 km of hose and 70 pumps.
  • 800 loads or 5 million litres of water have been dropped on the fire by water bombers, particularly in the early stages.
  • Stronger southerly winds preceding an incoming weather system were expected to result in another challenging day on the fireline today.
  • For up-to-date information on road closures, check
  • Rain and storms are expected on Thursday evening and may continue through Friday.

Nipigon 45
Nipigon 45 is of concern to the community of Eabametoong (Fort Hope) which lies 33 kilometres to the east. While not directly threatening the community, the fire is creating significant volumes of smoke that have resulted in air quality issues for the remote First Nation.

  • On Aug. 12, Fort Hope’s leadership initiated a stage one evacuation of vulnerable members of the community.
  • The fire is currently 5,475 hectares and has reached the south shore of the Albany River.
  • Controlled ignition is being used to try to bring the fire to natural boundaries.
  • The fire received air attack with multiple waterbombers this afternoon.
  • An Incident Management Team has been assigned to Nipigon 45.


Follow Ontario’s Outdoor Burning Regulations

Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services would like to remind the public to use caution when performing any outdoor burning. In order to dispose of yard waste and woody debris, we encourage you to use methods such as composting or using your local landfill. If you must burn, follow Ontario’s outdoor burning regulations.

Fires are to be ignited no sooner than 2 hours before sunset and extinguished no later than 2 hours after sunrise.

Always have tools/water adequate to contain the fire at the site.


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