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Quiet weekend for MNR firefighters

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Moist ground and high humidity prevented any forest fires from lighting in the Fort Frances area.

“Fort didn’t have any fires this weekend at all,” noted Arlan Hahkala, local MInistry of Natural Resources sector response officer. “We were at low to moderate [fire hazard] and after last night’s major rain, we’re back to a low.”

“There’s a moderate hazard in the east end, Mine Centre east to the east border of Quetico,” he added.

Across northwestern Ontario there are 25 fires currently burning. Of those, 20 are in areas were they can be allowed to burn and are being monitored by the MNR while five others are near communities but are close to being suppressed.

Of the five three are in the Bearskin Area, one is in the Nipigon area and one is in the Thunder Bay area.

“They are all close to being called out, crews have been called off and infra-red is being used to locate hot-spots,” said fire information officer Andrew Larmand at the Dryden office.

“Rain has been fairly scattered and the hazard is higher on the east side,” he noted. “There is cloud cover there but if the sun were shining, the hazard would be high.”

July was a busy month for firefighters across northwestern Ontario with 116 new fires ignited.

In the Fort Frances fire district 22 new fires were reported in July but despite high forest fire danger ratings, FireRanger crews were successful on all fires.

The largest was a five-hectare fire near Atikokan.

There were also six fires in Quetico Provincial Park and although the fire strategy allows for natural wildfires to burn within the park, the fires were suppressed because of the high fire hazard.

The Sioux Lookout district’s firefighters handled 31 new fires in July including six fires outside of the region in the far north sector. Eleven lightning fires within a 50 km zone of the Bearskin Lake community were a cause for concern but with a combination of waterbombers attacking from the air and FireRanger crews on the ground the fires were held back until a change in the weather slowed them down.

In the Nipigon district a residential fire in the community of Webequie was a concern when winds pushed it to 20 hectares blocking public access to the airport and dump but waterbombers and attack crews were able to knock down the blaze.

Bears posed a problem for firefighters there, forcing them to evacuate when seven or eight black bears roamed into the fire area.

There were also 11 new fires reported in the Dryden district, 15 in the Red Lake district and 10 fires in the Kenora and Thunder Bay districts.

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