Fire crews get help from Sunday showers, calm winds
Published Sunday, May 27, 2012 9:55PM EDT
Firefighters in northern Ontario got a boost from the weather Sunday, as calmer winds blew smoke away from Timmins and afternoon showers helped to slow the raging week-long forest fire.
Reports from the Ministry of Natural Resources said the fire, which put the city of 43,000 under a state of emergency, is unlikely to grow, noting that the fire has decreased in size by nearly 2,000 hectares since Saturday.
"Based on what's happened in the last 24 hours, we're pretty confident that there probably won't be too much further outward expansion," MNR manager Randy Pickering told CTV's Marina Moore. "It does seem to be relatively stable."
While Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren welcomed the rain, he said the city is still a long way from being in the clear.
"It's a huge fire that has been up and down, created by weather, so I would say until we get the OK from the MNR that they have it under control, we still have to be very vigilant," Laughren told CTV News Channel Sunday evening.
Authorities said that damp weather could prevent the current wildfires from spreading, allowing emergency crews to focus their efforts on the existing blazes.
Shifting winds have proven to be both a bother and a blessing for firefighters attempting to douse the forest fires. Strong gusts of wind fanned flames earlier in the week, encouraging the fires to scorch an even larger area. The blustery weather hindered the use of water bombers.
Ministry officials said those winds have since calmed down, and some residents are getting the OK to return after being forced to leave their homes and cottages for safe shelter elsewhere.
Laughren said the fire is too unpredictable to give a timeline when all residents may return.
At one point, close to 800 people were shut out of their homes in the surrounding area.
Meanwhile, nearly 300 residents of the Kirkland Lake area had returned home by Sunday, after evacuation orders were lifted for residents with houses on Goodfish and Nettie lakes, reported CTV Timmins in a tweet.
Evacuation orders were lifted Saturday for those living on Goldthorpe Road.
Both Timmins and Kirkland Lake remain under a state of emergency.
With files from CTV's Marina Moore and The Canadian Press