16 of 49 Ontario forest fires not under control, officials say
With the help of Mother Nature and friends as far as Mexico, firefighters in northeast Ontario extinguished seven fires in the area Wednesday.
The number of active fires has dropped to 49, with 16 still not under control.
“We are getting a little bit of a help from Mother Nature, especially in the northern areas,” said Shayne McCool, a fire information officer for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Late Monday there were 55 active fires in the northeastern portion of the province and 21 were out of control.
On Wednesday, two new fires popped up in the area near Hearst, Ont., and another near Longlac, Ont.
But firefighters have been able to make progress in preventing further expansion of many of the fires partly in thanks to rain, cloud cover and humid weather, but also with help of more than 500 extra staff from out of the province. Fire crews from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Mexico joined crews from a number of Canadian provinces to tackle the blazes.
Some fires remain a challenge for crews, such as Parry Sound 33, which has expanded beyond the earlier reported size of 5,612 hectares. Officials will update the size of the blaze within the next couple days.
“Due to some of the wind conditions we saw fueled by the lake effect, the fire did experience some growth yesterday,” said McCool, noting that they made progress in the northern and southern parts of the fire, but weather has been an issue in the region. The area has seen a lack of rain and gusts of wind reaching 20 to 25 km/hr.
Crews have been using state-of-the-art resources to combat the fires across the province, including water bombers. They have also utilized helicopter “bucketing techniques” to assist ground crews, who mainly utilize pumps and hoses to try and contain blazes around the perimeter.
Evacuation recommendations announced July 21 remain in place for boat access areas in Parry Sound, and evacuation alerts for those with road access to residences or cottages.
Though officials have determined that most of the fires were started by lightning strikes, some have been determined to be caused by humans, which McCool said can be either recreational or industrial activity.