Efforts Continue to Battle Wildfires, Urgency in Fire Safety Measures
THUNDER BAY – Northwest Region Wildfire Update – The Northwest Fire Region is grappling with a challenging situation as 40 active fires continue to burn. Although no new fires were confirmed by the late afternoon of July 2, the region remains on high alert. Among the active fires, eight are currently uncontrolled, with one being held, six under control, and 25 under observation.
Fire Hazard Conditions:
The wildland fire hazard in the Northwest Region ranges from mainly high to extreme, with certain areas experiencing moderate to low hazard levels in sectors such as Fort Frances, Thunder Bay, and Kenora. It is crucial for residents to stay informed about fire hazard conditions in their specific areas by referring to the Interactive Map provided by authorities.
Fires of Note:
Several significant fires require heightened attention and continuous efforts from aviation, forest fire, and emergency services:
- Sioux Lookout 33: Located on the western edge of Wabakimi Provincial Park, this fire spans an extensive area of 60,394 hectares. Despite ongoing challenges, heavy equipment is being utilized to construct a fire guard to limit the spread of the fire.
- Sioux Lookout 44: Situated on the west side of Lake St. Joseph, this fire covers 6,730 hectares. Helicopter bucketing operations are currently underway to provide support in containment efforts.
- Sioux Lookout 53: Positioned 3.5 kilometers east of the Bearskin Lake First Nation, this fire spans an area of 334 hectares. Firefighting crews are diligently establishing hose lines, with helicopter bucketing operations contributing to their progress.
- Nipigon 13: Situated west of Ogoki Lake, this fire encompasses 30,639 hectares. Values assessment and protection measures continue, with helicopter bucket operations providing vital support.
- Nipigon 19: Located northwest of Ogoki Lake, this fire covers 8,705 hectares. Crews are actively establishing hose lines while receiving ongoing support from helicopter bucket operations.
- Red Lake 28: Positioned 40 kilometers north of Lac Seul First Nation, this fire has spread across 19,177 hectares. Crews persist in establishing hose lines, and helicopter bucket operations remain crucial in supporting containment efforts.
Restricted Fire Zone:
In response to the extreme forest fire hazard, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has declared a Restricted Fire Zone across the entire fire region of Ontario (Zones 1 to 36). This zone is in effect until further notice, aiming to safeguard public safety. Within the Restricted Fire Zone, all open-air burning, including campfires, is strictly prohibited. However, portable gas or propane stoves may be used for cooking and warmth with utmost caution. All burning permits are suspended during this period.
Given the heightened fire activity, it is strongly advised to consider attending organized fireworks displays instead of setting off personal fireworks. Although fireworks are not restricted during the Restricted Fire Zone, it is essential to follow the guidelines outlined in the Forest Fire Prevention Act. Discharging firearms, flares, fireworks, or explosives within 300 meters of a forest area is strictly prohibited, and residue from these activities must be extinguished completely. Failure to comply can result in charges under the Act, with individuals potentially held responsible for the costs associated with extinguishing any resulting fires. Local municipalities may have additional by-laws regarding fireworks, so it is advisable to consult them for further information.
Reporting Wildland Fires:
To report a wildland fire located north of the French and Mattawa rivers, please dial 310-FIRE. For forest fires situated south of the French or Mattawa rivers, please dial 911 immediately.
During these critical times, it is crucial for residents to remain vigilant, follow safety protocols, and prioritize the well-being of all those affected by these ongoing wildfires. The combined efforts of firefighters, emergency services, and the community play a vital role in minimizing the impact of these fires. Let us work together to protect our region and ensure the safety of all.