The heavy rainfall expected in the region is helping to alleviate the extreme forest fire hazard in the region, but the Restricted Fire Zone is expected to remain over the May long weekend.

“The Restricted Fire Zone remains in place despite the rain we received so far in the region,” said Fire Information Officer Chris Marchand, with the Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services Branch of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

“It’s temporarily improved the fire hazard, notably in the Kenora District where we’ve seen the most fires to date this season, 46, but the precipitation didn’t materialize for parts of the Fort Frances and Thunder Bay districts which remain under a high hazard.”

Four new forest fires were reported yesterday in the Kenora and Fort Frances districts. Three of them are listed as not under control. Two of them are the latest in over a dozen new lightning-caused fires to emerge in the vicinity of Umfreville Lake.

The forest fire hazard remains in the high to extreme range in Kenora, Dryden, Fort Frances and Thunder Bay districts. Red Lake has a moderate fire hazard. Sioux Lookout and Nipigon are under a low to moderate fire hazard.

“What’s really going to lift that RFZ is several days of steady rain – because even if we get 20 millimetres of rain at a given site, its effects can be short lived and the hazard can be back up to high in a few days. So at this point our officials haven’t seen enough rain on the ground region-wide to lift the RFZ,” added Marchand.

Kenora Fire Chief Todd Skene adds that Kenora’s fire ban will remain in place over the long weekend as well.

During a Restricted Fire Zone, the use of open fires – such as campfires, or burning of brush or debris, is restricted. Failure to comply could result in fines of up to $25,000 and three months in jail, as well as financial responsibility for the costs incurred in fighting a forest fire.

Portable gas or propane stoves are permitted for use for cooking or warmth, though they should be closely monitored. Portable charcoal BBQs and Hibachis are not permitted unless within 100 metres of a dwelling, or within an organized campground.

Environment Canada Meteorologist Gerald Cheng says that the region can expect between 30 to 40 millimetres of rain by tomorrow, with some parts of the region dealing with up to 60 mm and localized flooding.

For more information:
Heavy rainfall expected

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