August 3, 2021 – Wildfire Update for Northwestern Ontario

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Wildfire Update

Thunder Bay – Wildfire Update – There were five new fires reported on Tuesday. At the time of this update there were 109 active fires in the northwest region. 18 fires were not under control, 4 fires were being held, 13 fires were under control and 74 fires were being monitored.

  • There were five new fires confirmed in the Northwest Region by the early evening of August 3.
    • Red Lake 215 is under control at 0.1 hectares and is located near Sparling Lake, approximately 101 kilometres north of Red Lake.
    • Fort Frances 117 is not under control at 4 hectares and is located near Brewer Lake, approximately 59 kilometres southwest of Atikokan.
    • Sioux Lookout 126 has been declared at 0.1 hectares and was located in the community of Cat Lake.
    • Kenora 136 is not under control at 2 hectares and is located along the shore of Lake of the Woods, approximately 10 kilometres west of Nestor Falls
    • Red Lake 216 is not under control at 1015 hectares and is located north of Artery Lake, approximately 104 kilometres northwest of Red Lake
  • The forest fire hazard is high across most of the region with an area of moderate hazard in the central portions of Nipigon and Sioux Lookout districts.
  • AFFES is currently responding to many fires on the landscape. Stay informed of the location, size, status of all active wildland fires in the province on the interactive fire map at Ontario.ca/forestfire

Fires of Note 

Kenora 51 – of concern to Wabaseemoong

  • Fire is not under control and is 192,161 hectares.
  • Continues to burn north of Umfreville Lake and has not spotted south of Umfreville Lake.
  • Kenora 51 is approximately 20 kilometres north of Wabaseemoong Independent Nation.
  • Smoke is affecting the wider Kenora area.
  • Helicopters with buckets and water bombing airplanes are being used to slow the fire.
  • Ignition crews are bringing the fire to natural boundaries
  • Bulldozer lines are being used to improve access.
  • Crews working to protect community values and critical infrastructure.
  • Efforts are being supported by fire personnel from Alberta, Mexico and Australia
  • An Incident Management Team is established on the fire.

Red Lake 65 – of concern to Poplar Hill First Nation

  • The fire is 19,796 hectares and located 6 kilometres west of the community.
  • Crews are making good progress on east side of the spot fire.
  • 7 crews in total are committed.
  • Fire behaviour remains quiet with smoldering and some visible smoke
  • Crews onsite to monitor the values protection equipment, and to look for opportunities to action any hot spots.

Red Lake 51 – of concern to Deer Lake First Nation

  • The fire is 52,106 hectares and located approximately 24 kilometres west of the community.
  • Priorities are focused on protection of Deer Lake.
  • Crews are working hose lines along the east side of the fire.
  • Fire behaviour remains quiet with smoldering and some visible smoke
  • The Community Values Protection Team has completed work on the community and critical infrastructure and is monitoring and maintaining the equipment.
  • An Incident Management Team has been assigned to oversee this fire.
  • Community evacuation complete, only essential workers remain.

Sioux Lookout 60 – of concern to Cat Lake First Nation

  • The fire is 1,487 hectares and located 8 kilometres west of the community.
  • The fire is being held
  • The fire displayed limited activity in recent days due to weather conditions.
  • Community protection efforts are ongoing.
  • Crews are assigned to the fire. More crews will be arriving soon. Crews are establishing hoselines on the fire.
  • An Incident Management Team is managing the fire.

Red Lake 77 – Fire of concern to Red Lake

  • The fire is not under control at 30,519 ha, approximately 33 km west of Red Lake.
  • Crews have been mobilized to work a portion of the northeast corner.
  • Fireguard continues to be built east of the fire, heavy equipment is making good progress.
  • Fire behaviour increased on the west side of RED 77 and showed open flame and single tree torching.

Restrictions to Forest Management Plans and industrial operations in the Northwest Region 

Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services has been advised by NDMNRF Regional Operations Division that restrictions have been imposed with respect to Forest Management Plans and industrial operations in Northwestern Ontario. These restrictions are in effect as of 12:01 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on July 21, 2021 until such time as the order is revoked. See map (PDF).

The following activities governed by an approved Forest Management Plan and associated Annual Work Schedule under the Crown Forest Sustainability Act are prohibited:

  1. Road Construction including:
    1. stripping with bulldozer
    2. blasting without mats
    3. building, spreading and shaping sub-grade with back hoe/excavator
  2. Harvesting using the following equipment:
    1. tracked equipment such as feller-bunchers, or machines with rotary cutting heads
    2. vehicles with tire chains (i.e. forwarders, skidders)
    3. mechanized equipment with rubber tires (no chains) (i.e. forwarders, skidders)
    4. power saw / chainsaw
  3. Processing:
    1. delimbing, slashing, portable saw mills
    2. portable chipping
    3. power saw / chainsaw
  4. Silviculture:
    1. mechanized site preparation
    2. mechanical tending with chain flails and mowers; hydro-axe; slash piling
    3. brush saw/chainsaw thinning
  5. Other:
    1. hot work: welding, torch cutting and grinding

The following activities carried out in a forest area as part of an industrial operation as defined under Ontario Regulation 207/96 are prohibited unless carried out as part of emergency maintenance or repairs and all mitigation measures under subsection 19(2) of O. Reg. 207/96 are implemented:

  1. a) Operation that uses heavy machinery equipped with metal parts that may come into contact with rocks or similar material in the normal course of operation and cause a spark.
    b) Stripping of the surface vegetation and forest floor with heavy machinery.
    c) Hot work.
    d) Rail production grinding.
    e) Blasting of rock or soil without use of blasting mats.
    f) Switch crossing grinding.
    g) Operations using a channel saw where the surface vegetation and forest floor have not been removed up to a distance of at least three metres from the place where the channel saw is being operated on the worksite.
    h) Delimbing or slashing felled trees with heavy machinery.
    i) Using a portable saw mill.
    j) Slash piling.
    k) Building, spreading or shaping the sub-grade with a back hoe or excavator.
    l) Operation using three or more brush saws.
    m) Operation using heavy machinery with rubber tires and no chains.
    n) Drilling operation that does not use water as a coolant or flushing agent and that is carried out in an area that has not been cleared of the surface vegetation and forest floor.
    o) Induced polarization surveys using a power generator.For reference, “industrial operations” is defined as follows under Ontario Regulation 207/96: Outdoor Fires:
  • 15. (1) In this Part,
    “industrial operations” means any of the following operations that are carried out in a forest area as part of an industrial activity described in subsection (2) and not for personal purposes:
    1. Harvesting trees and processing them into log lengths, chips, biofuel or lumber.
    2. Clearing land of trees or other vegetation.
    3. Operation or use, in a forest area, of machinery with metal parts that, in the normal course of operations, may come into contact with rocks or similar material resulting in the creation of a spark or fire.
    4. Hot work.
    5. Trenching in areas of forest fuels.
    6. The use of explosives in or adjacent to forest fuels.
    7. Road construction;
  • (2) The following are the industrial activities referred to in the definition of “industrial operations” in subsection (1):
    1. Timber harvesting and timber processing, unless the harvesting or processing is governed by a Forest Management Plan approved under the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994.
    2. Mechanical site preparations and other silvicultural treatments, other than those that are governed by a Forest Management Plan approved under the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994.
    3. Construction and maintenance of electrical power generation facilities.
    4. Construction and maintenance of utility corridors, including any infrastructure that is part of the corridors.
    5. Construction and maintenance on railway rights of way, including any infrastructure on the rights of way.
    6. Peat harvesting.
    7. Mining and mineral exploration.
  • Measures under subsection 19(2) of O. Reg. 207/96:
    1. The worksite must be soaked with water or with a fire suppression foam mixture before the operations begin and after the operations are completed for the day and must be kept in a wet condition during operations.
    2. At least one worker must be assigned to monitor the worksite while the industrial operations are being carried out to watch for sparks or other signs that a fire has been ignited and to take immediate actions to halt the spread of fire if it is safe to do so.
    3. At least one worker must be employed to actively patrol the worksite for at least one hour after the operations are completed for the day and to extinguish any fires he or she may find if it is safe to do so.
    4. Workers engaged in monitoring or patrolling a worksite under paragraph 2 or 3 must be equipped with telephones or other devices capable of immediate two-way communication with the local fire management headquarters and ensure that any fire that may occur and is not kept under control is immediately reported to the Ministry.
    5. Workers conducting hot work operations must put in place non-combustible screens designed and able to catch any and all material capable of producing fire ignitions.
  • Contact: Natural Resources Information and Support Centre – NRISC@ontario.caor   1-800-667-1940.

Restrictions due to forest fire activity in the Red Lake District  

The Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry, Red Lake District, is advising the public that due to extreme forest fire activity, an Implementation Order is now in effect until further notice that restricts access and use of certain roads and Crown lands.

All travel, use and access to the following areas are prohibited unless authorized by a travel permit issued by the Red Lake District office.

Specifically, all modes of travel and use of the North road, Pineridge Road, Suffel Lake Road, Iriam Road and the portion of Longlegged Road west of the junction of Conifer Road and Longlegged Road.

All modes of travel/access onto Storey lake, Philip lake, Nungesser lake, including the Sahkeesahkahteekoh weesuhkaheegahn (Pringle Lake, Dedicated Protected Area (Ontario Parks)); Woodland Caribou Provincial Park is closed. This includes all access points off Suffel lake Road, Pineridge Road and Iriam Road. Including all modes of travel/access from the Manitoba-Ontario boarder including the Little Grand Rapids dedicated protected planning area, Weeskayjahk Ohtahzhoganiing (Lake country, Dedicated Protected Area) and all Crown land as outlined in the hatched area identified on the Implementation order map.

For information on how to obtain a travel permit please call 807-727-1345.
To view a map of the implementation order area at ontario.ca/forestfire click here.

Restrictions due to forest fire activity in the Kenora District

The Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry, Kenora District, is advising the public that due to extreme forest fire activity from the Kenora 51 fire, an Implementation Order is now in effect until further notice that restricts access and use of certain roads and Crown lands.

All travel, use and access to the following areas are prohibited unless authorized by a travel permit issued by the Kenora District Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry.

This includes all travel on Sand Lake Road, from the Highway 525 junction, east to the English River Road Junction, all travel on the English River Road, north of the Sand Lake Road junction and all travel on the Werner Lake Road from the Manitoba Border eastward to the end of the road

All use of lakes and waterways accessible from the English River system, between Caribou Falls and Separation Rapids including all of Umfreville Lake is prohibited

For detailed information on the restricted access area including obtaining a map or for information on how to apply for a travel permit please call 807-456-2694.

Please visit ontario.ca/forestfire to view the current restrictions and associated maps. Or click here to view a map of the expanded Implementation Order area.

Restricted Fire Zone in effect 

Due to high to extreme forest fire hazard conditions, effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday July 10, the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry has issued updated boundaries for a Restricted Fire Zone in the Kenora, Fort Frances, Dryden and Thunder Bay Districts and portions of the Sioux Lookout, Red Lake, Nipigon and Wawa Districts.  The Restricted Fire Zone will be in effect until further notice. Outdoor fires are banned. Portable gas stoves may still be used BUT must be handled with extreme care.  You can learn more about Restricted Fire Zones here. For a more detailed boundary of the Restricted Fire Zone see the attached map, consult the interactive fire map at Ontario.ca/forestfire or find the map here.