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More MNR crews going to Oregon

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Quiet forest fire activity in Fort Frances District has allowed the local Ministry of Natural Resources office to deploy more FireRanger crews to fight blazes in southwest Oregon.

“We’ll be sending two additional fire crews and one more technician to the ‘Sour Biscuit’ fire Saturday,” said Matt Myers, the MNR’s fire management supervisor.

This raises the total to five four-person FireRanger crews and four forest fire technicians in Oregon. The others were dispatched there Aug. 7-8.

And this help surely will be appreciated. The state government has spent more than $50 million fighting the “Sour Biscuit” fire, still only a quarter of the blaze has been contained as of Tuesday.

The blaze, which was started by lightning a month ago, has charred nearly 380,000 acres, making it the largest in Oregon’s history. Some small communities have been evacuated.

The name “Sour Biscuit” is a code-name used to differentiate fires, unlike the numerical system used by the MNR, said Myers.

Despite Wednesday night’s lightning activity, no fires currently are burning in the Fort Frances and Dryden districts. The fire hazard here—and in much of the West Fire Region—has been downgraded to “low.”

“Since we had the recent change in weather, we’ve been doing quite well,” said Myers.

“The rainfall has been widespread. All 13 weather stations we have in the district have received rain in the past two days,” he added.

Myers noted the only “dangerous” area is in Quetico Park, where dry fuels tend to pile up, with usually only the surface of the materials getting wet after a rainfall.

This can make for potential “deep-burning fires.”

The only districts in the West Fire Region with active fires include Kenora (one), Nipigon (14), Sioux Lookout (nine), Red Lake (six), and Thunder Bay (one). Still, the fire hazard remains “low” to “low-moderate” in these areas.

Fort Frances District has seen a total of 53 fires since April 1—half caused by humans and the other half by lightning, said Myers.

The West Fire Region has seen a total of 569 fires to date, consuming a total of 165,145 ha.

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