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Rash of fires ignites region

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Ministry of Natural Resources firefighters had a busy weekend as 116 new fires sprung up since across the West Fire Region since Friday, burning about 2,500 hectares.

“They were predominantly lightning-caused,” MNR fire information officer Andrew Larmandi said this morning. “There were only maybe two or three caused by people.”

He also noted all but 37 of the fires, many of which were small, have since been extinguished.

“With lightning, what happens is there’s a strike reported and we get on it right away. With the help of waterbombers, it’s usually over quick,” remarked Larmandi.

Fort Frances District only saw one fire from Friday’s storms--a 1.0-ha blaze that started near Manitou Sound, about 70 km northeast of here. It was declared “under control” this morning.

A second fire reported in the district Saturday was a residential burning that got out of control near Lake Despair. The small fire was put out that day.

But other areas were harder hit. Nipigon District saw 44 new fires while 33 started in Red Lake. Another 25 began in Sioux Lookout, as well as 13 in Thunder Bay. One each started in Dryden and Kenora.

Since then, 15 fires are still burning in Nipigon District, 12 in Sioux Lookout, five in Red Lake, and four in Thunder Bay.

“The priority fires right now are in the north, places like Summer Beaver and Fort Hope,” noted Larmandi. “But no residential areas were endangered.”

While the fire hazard is low to moderate in the Fort Frances, Ignace, Red Lake, and Kenora areas, it’s rising in the eastern part of the region.

“We had a very rainy May but hardly any rain so far in June,” said Larmandi.

Meanwhile, as the MNR prepares for a possibly hectic summer, the Thunder Bay office got a little help from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources this morning--a loan of two CL-2 waterbombers.

“This is the first time they’ve done this,” said Larmandi. “With so many fires over burning widespread, we’ve had to spread our resources kind of thin.”

Since April 1, the region has seen 185 fires, consuming 2,741 ha.

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