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Multiple fires challenging resources

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Multiple forest fire starts caused by lightning are putting pressure on the firefighting resources in the Northwest Region.

More than 40 new fires have started up in the past three days, including five by yesterday evening.

By day’s end on Wednesday, a total of 13 new fires had been confirmed while 23 were reported on Tuesday, with most of them occurring in the Red Lake District.

Still, progress was made on a number of fires, with 12 declared “out” within the last day.

Although rain is in the forecast, with more than 40 active fires in the region, there is a heavy commitment of resources to existing fires and for rapid response to new ones.

The active fires primarily are located in the northern districts of Red Lake, Sioux Lookout, and Nipigon.

A Type Two Incident Management Team has been dispatched to Red Lake District to take over management of a fire located about 40 km northwest of Red Lake.

Red Lake Fire #31—mapped at 2,600 hectares in size—is in fact a combination of other fires that joined together.

When this occurs, the other fires are declared out and the main fire is listed as active with the combined size of all of the fires.

Thunder Bay District also responded to a fire southeast of Armstrong on Wednesday which required ground and air attack.

Meanwhile, a blaze at the south end of Lake of the Woods is being monitored.

The fire hazard remains “high-extreme” in the southern sectors of the region, and a weather system moving in from the west will bring more lightning.

Strong shifting winds also are expected ahead of the system, which will make suppression efforts more difficult.

The forest fire hazard will moderate as rain crosses the region, but that will take a day or more to occur.

In other news, an MNR helicopter with a FireRanger crew on board performed a successful search-and-rescue operation yesterday in Thunder Bay District.

A helitack helicopter was on alert at the Rinker Lake fire base when two fishermen came into the base to report they had lost their partner and were unable to locate him.

They were fishing a river about 30 km northeast of Rinker Lake.

The Thunder Bay Fire Management Headquarters duty officer dispatched the helicopter with a FireRanger crew on board and a search commenced, flying up and down the river in the location that the fishermen had given them.

Fortunately, the person was located, who later explained he had lost his bearings on the river.

One of the FireRangers performed a hover exit from the helicopter and gave directions on how to find the way back.

Another fire crew drove with the fishermen who had given the alert to pick up the lost partner.

All are now safe and sound.

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