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Fires threaten properties


KILLARNEY, Ont.—Crews from across the country continued to cut down dozens of raging fires in northeastern Ontario yesterday after evacuation orders left some property owners uncertain of whether their homes and businesses would survive the flames.

The OPP issued a statement yesterday saying the largest fire in the area—known as “Parry Sound 33"—had grown to more than 5,000 hectares in size and was "not yet under control.”

The blaze prompted mandatory evacuation orders for 50 homes that only are accessible by boat on Saturday, several days after it was discovered.

Police said those who could access their properties by road were subject to a “12-hour notice of evacuation order” as of yesterday evening.

James Palmer, whose family has owned the Hartley Bay Marina for 65 years, said he was among those pushed out of the area Saturday but he hopes to return soon to check up on the property.

“Our business is still standing but that could change at a moment's notice,” he remarked.

“It's extremely stressful because not only is it my home, it's my place of business.”

He noted the marina is one of the only access points to the mainland from campgrounds.

Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests said the orders and alerts apply to properties between the western and northern borders of French River Provincial Park, east to Highway 69, and as far south as the Key River's south shore, including people on both shores of the French and Pickerel rivers and Hartley Bay.

Parry Sound 33 is one of more than 60 fires burning in the region, with 20 of them out of control as of yesterday afternoon—a slight improvement from the previous night.

Firefighters and equipment have poured in from across Canada, the United States, and Mexico to help Ontario-based crews.

Five waterbombers were aiding hard-pressed ground crews in their struggle to contain the flames.

Palmer said they had to evacuate the entire park yesterday afternoon.

“It was a grab-your-stuff-and-go moment yesterday,” he remarked.

Heavy smoke filled the air and there was concern for the elderly and children, Palmer added.

“The fire grew exponentially out of control. It's not contained, it's a wildfire,” he stressed.

“We dumped everybody out of the park as fast as we could,” he said, noting more than 200 vehicles were on site at the time.

Most evacuees are seasonal cottage-goers or campers who have fled to hotels in Sudbury or have gone home, said Palmer, who also is seeking refuge in the nearby city.

“We've had a lot of smoke,” said Renee Germain, who lives in Warren, located between Sudbury and North Bay.

Although she's not in the evacuation zone, she's offering her property as a refuge for those with horses and livestock.

The fires often have been helped along by Mother Nature, with hot, dry conditions combined with lightning strikes and blustery winds fuelling—and often igniting—the flames.

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