Kenora Fire 71 is still burning out of control north of Kenora. However, the territory impacted remained constant Sunday at just over 9,100 hectares or about 22,500 acres.
A lightning strike last Sunday afternoon sparked the blaze, which is about 23 kilometres from Whitedog. The fire led to smoke blowing into nearby Wabaseemoong First Nation last Thursday. Overnight, between 70 and 80 members of the reserve had been evacuated by Friday morning.
These were largely elders, children and members who had trouble breathing in the smoky air. According to the federal government, the First Nation had about 850 members live in the community five years ago, in 2013, and they had a total of about 1,800 members.
Those evacuated were staying in Wauzhushk Onigum (Rat Portage), Kenora, Falcon Lake and Winnipeg. Volunteers at the shelter for refugees said they were grateful for the support of their host community, as well as neighbouring communities.
A shift in the wind Friday meant most residents of Whitedog were able to stay in their homes over the weekend. However, another shift in the wind could bring the smoke back, or even push the fire closer to the community.
Kenora 77 is on the shores of Dowswell Lake and it has burned about 233 hectares. Red Lake 79 is about 40 hectares in size burning in the area of Sydney Lake.
They're among 72 active fires in the region, 62 of which are either under observation, being held or under control. Six new fires were added to the list Saturday, including Kenora Fire 80. It's less than a hectare in size at Ash Bay on Lake of the Woods.
The fire hazard is listed as high, and there are some travel restrictions in the area of the fire. An emergency order restricts travel on Werner Lake Road, as well as Crown land use around Kenora Fire 71.
Fire crews have been working on a base camp at Minaki that was expected to be completed Sunday.
The province reports:
- Heavy bucket helicopters continue supporting crews consolidating lines on the western side of the fire.
- One hundred fire fighters have been committed to this fire.
- Warm, sunny weather has increased fire behaviour on Kenora 71.
- Crews continue to maintain sprinkler systems on structures in the vicinity of the fire.
- Plans are being developed to use aerial ignition to bring the fire to natural boundaries.
Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford, who is also responsible for Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development, said Friday he would be monitoring the situation closely.
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