Far fewer forest fires this spring

by Jason Bain | June 17, 2019

Ontario has seen less than half as many forest fires this year over last year, but the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry points out there has been no shortage of problematic blazes so far this season.

There have been 114 fires, way down from the 256 at this time last year and the 10-year average of 260 for this time, said Chris Marchand, Dryden-based northwest region fire information officer with Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services.

But many of them originated too close for comfort, including a 3,800-hectare blaze that forced the evacuation of more than 1,700 residents of Pikangikum First Nation earlier this month and late last month, he noted.

Another forest fire began within a kilometre of Pickle Lake and another within four kilometres of Gogama, Marchand said.

“Those fires require robust, full-suppression responses,” he said, explaining how the complexity of those efforts have kept crews busy. “When fires happen around lives and property … it changes the type of response that you give to it.”

The wet, cool conditions helped keep foliage from being as receptive to fire as it could be this spring, Marchand said Friday, when there were eight active fires.

He offers some tips to prevent fires, including encouraging residents to consider burning brush piles later in the season or chipping or composting them.

Those who have fires are reminded of regulations set out in the Forest Fire Prevention Act, such as not burning piles larger than two metres tall and two metres wide on all sides, and having tools on hand such as a rake and shovel.

There are also time of day restrictions. You cannot light a fire until two hours before sunset, and the fire must be put out within two hours after sunrise.

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