Saturday, October 25, 2014

Be wary of dry conditions: MNR

More than a month into the 2014 fire season, the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Northwest Forest Fire Management Centre has seen only two fires to date.
These included a 0.3-hectare fire in Kenora, which was reported Sunday, and a fire in Thunder Bay last week that was the result of a tree falling on a power line.

But the dry conditions are a cause for concern and the situation could change soon if the public isn’t careful, fire information officer Deb MacLean warned yesterday.
“Although the fire hazard is still low, the snow cover is receding, particularly in the southern sectors, which includes Fort Frances District,” she noted.
“What happens every year is there that’s shoulder period between when the snow goes and when we get ‘green up,’” MacLean explained.
“And that’s particularly hazardous because even small fires, like a campfire, grass fire, or brush fire, can really spread quickly across fields and particularly up south-facing slopes.
“We caution people that the snow is leaving and that the hazard, as far as ignition potential, is definitely there,” she stressed.
MacLean said human-caused blazes are the primary cause of fires in spring, as compared to lightning in summer.
“When somebody starts a fire for whatever reason, whether it’s an incinerator or grass or brush, it tends to be in an area where there are other people and other properties,” she noted.
“So a very small fire can actually cause a great deal of damage and be threatening just because it’s near other people and property.”
MacLean recalled that last year, the region saw a prolonged spring with a slow start. But once it started to warm up in May, there was a fast transition to a higher fire hazard and more fire activity.
While this spring was off to an even slower start, it’s picking up now and a similar combination of conditions as last year is “brewing,” she added.
The MNR fire season runs from April through October. What this means is people using outdoor fires must follow strict guidelines under the Forest Fires Prevention Act of Ontario to ensure their fires are properly-managed.
Burning during the day is prohibited right now.
Anyone who starts a fire outdoors must take all necessary steps to tend the fire, keep it under control, and make sure the fire is out before leaving the site.

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