Fire hazard reaches ‘extreme’

With the Ministry of Natural Resources discussing whether to impose a Restricted Fire Zone here and elsewhere in the region, the fire hazard index is dangerously high in the Fort Frances District.
“We’re well into ‘extreme,’” Harrold Boven, MNR fire management supervisor, said this morning.
“The bush is extremely dry. We’re not encouraging an burning whatsoever.
It could have very serious consequences.
“All precautions need to be taken,” he stressed. “We’ve been in contact with tourist operators to emphasize this. People know it’s extremely dry out there, but we have to stress the point.”^Since Aug. 13, local FireRanger crews have responded to four fires in Quetico Park, bringing the seasonal total here to 63.
These most recent starts have ranged from 0.3. hectares in size to a 1.0-ha blaze near Sarah Lake that continues to burn today. All of these were caused by people.
Boven said firefighting efforts, fortunately, have gone smoothly.
“We’ve been able to respond quickly. With the combined efforts of the FireRangers and the air attack, we’ve been able to keep them small,” remarked Boven.
But he added fatigue and heat exhaustion—always factors in fighting forest fires—have come into play.
Meanwhile, the forecast may not provide much relief for at least a few days, with a 30-40 percent chance of thunderstorms posing a threat of lightning-caused starts and temperatures staying above or around the 30-degree C range until Thursday.
Meanwhile, five local FireRanger crews are away—three fighting fires in British Columbia, another in Geraldton, and a third in Kenora District.
The last one—Kenora Fire #110— was reported near Catherine Lake yesterday afternoon and already has grown to about 250 ha.
The MNR regional office reported air attack and Fire- Ranger crews took aggressive action on this fire yesterday but with the dry conditions and high winds, the fire behaviour was intense and very challenging.
With higher humidity in the evening, the fire responded well to the four CL-415 waterbombers that have been working the blaze since shortly after its discovery.
The use of foam (water mixed with a fire retardant) being dropped from the waterbombers helped to lower the intensity of the fire.
A provincial incident command team was dispatched to take over the fire operations for Kenora #110.
In related news, the OPP has closed Highway 596 to all traffic between Pickerel Lake Road to Wade Road, about 10 km south of Minaki, due to poor visibility from smoke and fire suppression activities.
The OPP and MNR are doing evacuations within the fire area.