The restricted fire zone in place across most of northwestern Ontario hasn’t deterred everyone from burning outdoors. Over the long weekend, there were six new fire starts in the region. The Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services branch of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry says that four of those fires are human-caused.
Three out of those four fires are listed as small in size, with the exception of a fire near Pikangikum First Nation’s dump site. That fire is listed at 27 hectares in size, and required an air attack to stop its spread.
The MNRF says that the forest fire hazard is moderate to high across most the region, with an area of extreme hazard in the Red Lake district. The ministry adds that warm, sunny weather has increased the fire hazard over the last few days.
Residents and visitors are reminded not to burn brush or have camp fires, as the spring drought continues. 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.
Commercial campground operators may allow their guests to enjoy campfires during a Restricted Fire Zone period provided they meet certain conditions.
Environment Canada shows close to 45 mm of rain has fallen so far this month. This is up from 27 mm last year, but there hasn't been nearly the same amount of spring runoff this season.
Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued an air quality advisory around three First Nation communities following the string of forest fires over the long weekend. The advisory, which includes Pikangikum First Nation, Poplar Hill First Nation and McDowell Lake First Nation, says that elevated levels of air pollution are expected from excess smoke from forest fires in the area.