Staff with the Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services branch of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry say that Kenora Fire 71, located approximately 23 kilometres north of Wabaseemoong First Nation, is of no direct threat to the community.

“The fire is not a direct threat to the community at this time,” says Fire Information Officer Johnathan Scott.

“There are 100 firefighters committed to the fire. The fire remains at 9,173 hectares. Crews are still establishing hose lines around the fire, and there were water bombers on the fire yesterday. At this time, there will still be smoke drifts from the fire in the area. We’ve been monitoring that as well. We also haven’t heard of any structural losses.”

Scott added that fire crews have established their base camp in Minaki. A lightning strike last Sunday afternoon sparked the blaze, which led to smoke blowing into the region last Thursday.

Overnight, between 70 and 80 members of the reserve had been evacuated to Wauzhushk Onigum First Nation, Kenora, Dryden and Winnipeg by Friday morning. These were largely elders, children and members who had trouble breathing in the smoky air. Community members are expected to return to Wabaseemoong when the air quality improves.

The Treaty Three Police Service has been working with emergency response and community stakeholders to ensure the safety of community members. Police wanted to thank emergency service partners, including the OPP, Kenora Fire and Emergency Services, the MNRF, community stakeholders, the community of Wauzhushk Onigum First Nation and the Canadian Red Cross for their help and support.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is advising the public of an Emergency Area Order for the area around Kenora Fire 71 to ensure public safety. As a result, the order restricts travel on Werner Lake Road, as well as Crown land use and travel within the boundaries of the EAO. 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.

As well as Kenora Fire 71, crews with the MNRF have also been fighting a variety of fairly-active fires in the Woodland Caribou Provincial Park, near Red Lake. There are restrictions on back-country travel, canoe routes and a number of lakes.

The ministry says that the fire hazard is currently low across the western part of the region, moving into a band of moderate hazard as you move east towards Thunder Bay and progressing to a high hazard in the Terrace Bay area and the southern portion of the Nipigon district.

There are currently 77 active fires in the region, 65 of which are either under observation, being held or under control.

For more information:
100 firefighters battling Fire 71

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