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Forest fire situation could heat up here

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Despite the below-average number of forest fires here since April 1, local Ministry of Natural Resources FireRangers remain on alert for the possibility of lightning-caused fires.

“We’ve had a bit of rain over the past couple days and it’s brought the hazard down somewhat,” fire operations supervisor Harrold Boven noted Friday morning, adding it went from “high-extreme” two days ago to “low” last night.

“But it looks like with the weekend being sunny, warm, and breezy, it will be building up again,” he warned.

With the tourist season now underway, and more and more cabin-owners heading up the lakes, Boven stressed the importance of being cautious with fire this weekend.

“If possible, use a portable stove instead of lighting a campfire,” he remarked.

“The trees haven’t flushed out yet, and the grasses haven’t cured, despite the fact the grass here in town is looking green again,” Boven added.

“With these conditions, a fire could move rapidly through the treetops.”

Since the start of the fire season (April 1), MNR crews have responded to nine blazes in Fort Frances District. While Boven said most of them were small (0.1 hectares in size), one consumed eight ha of bush on the North Arm of Rainy Lake a couple of weeks ago.

The latter was caused by humans.

Elsewhere in the region, the fire situation already is heating up, with five new fires yesterday—two in Dryden and one each in the Kenora, Sioux Lookout, and Thunder Bay districts).

A 625-ha blaze also has been scorching Thunder Bay District for the past several days.

“We’re expecting at least that many more over the weekend,” Deb MacLean, the MNR’s fire information officer, said today from Dryden.

“There will be [aerial] patrols over everywhere west of Lake Nipigon,” she added. “While we may not find any of the new fires difficult to put out, they have to be responded to and are therefore using up our resources.”

The West Fire Region has seen a total of 64 fires since the start of the fire season, consuming 700 ha in total.

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