Wildfire confusion: Parry Sound not in danger from Parry Sound 33 fire
Officials in Parry Sound insist that the town is safe and open for business as confusion mounts over a wildfire with the same name.
The Parry Sound 33 forest fire has been burning since mid-July and has reached a size of 11,185 hectares in the province’s northeast. It is categorized as “not under control.”
But the town of Parry Sound is 75 kilometres away from the blaze, and the local fire chief insists that the community is not in danger.
“We’re safe here. For the residents in the area, it’s very safe. There is no imminent fire danger,” Parry Sound Fire Chief Dave Thompson told CTV Barrie.
Smoke wafted into Parry Sound earlier this week, causing some concern among residents. The fire chief stressed that the smoke was not from new fires in the area, but from the forest fires.
The message was reiterated Friday by Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller, who said the fire “in no way threatens the town or any of the nearby tourist attractions.”
“The Festival of the Sound is still going on, area resorts are still running and boat tours of the 30,000 Islands on the Island Queen or the Chippewa still offer a great way to spend a day,” Miller said in a statement.
In Killarney, about two hours north, a lodge that relies on summer tourism says it is losing revenue at what should be the busiest time of the year because of similar confusion.
Killarney is located nearly 80 to 100 kilometres from the blaze, prompting pockets of the vast area to be evacuated.
Brandon Zdenek, operations manager at Killarney Mountain Lodge, said Killarney covers a large area and many people are misinformed about precisely where the fire is burning. The lodge, he says, is completely safe -- but many guests don’t realize that.
“We’re getting around 100 calls a day from guests cancelling their reservations because they think we’re on fire,” Zdenek said.
Staff are having a tough time convincing people not to cancel their reservations, Zdenek said.
“One hundred phone calls a day takes up a lot of our time. We do our best to convince people that everything is OK here,” he said.
Zdenek says the town is seeing a significant drop in visitors, with business down 30 per cent since the fire started last month.
“We’re down tens of thousands of dollars,’” he said. “For such a small community we have here, that 30 per cent drop is a lot. Especially because the town essentially shuts down in the winter time.”
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