Forest fire prevention is everyone’s responsibility

Ontarians should make every effort to help prevent forest fires, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay announced yesterday.
“While the fire situation has improved somewhat of late, I urge people to take every precaution when they are outdoors to prevent any human-caused fires,” said Ramsay. “We all need to do our part, especially when we’re having such a hot summer.”
There are currently 57 active fires across Northern Ontario, with most in the northwest. To date, there have been about 1,096 fires that have burned some 20,130 hectares. This is an improvement over last year’s fire season when 1,202 fires had burned some 37,242 ha. by the August long weekend.
Ontario ’s forest fire fighters have been busy fighting fires in Ontario and western Canada. In early July, Ontario responded to requests for assistance by providing over 300 fire personnel and equipment to British Columbia, Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan to help fight a number of large fires that were threatening communities and resources.
When personnel and equipment returned to Ontario, the forest fire hazard had increased and hundreds of new fires had to be fought in the following weeks.
Over 589 new fires started in the province, with over 100 new fires reported in one day. By July 20, there were 165 fires burning, 75 of which were not under control.
“We’ve received assistance from other provinces in the past, so it was nice to return the favour when Ontario’s fire season was still relatively quiet,” said Ramsay.
“When our fire fighters are busy, it helps keep their skills sharp, and I am particularly proud of their tremendous work in suppressing almost 600 fires in under a month,” he added.
Forest fire prevention is everyone’s responsibility. As the long weekend approaches, extra caution should be exercised with all open flames.
Campers should keep campfires small and ensure they are fully extinguished before leaving the site.
Anglers could consider using a portable gas cookstove to cook shore lunches rather than a campfire.
In addition, people should check with their local municipality about other restrictions and guidelines.
Fighting forest fires is just one example of how the McGuinty government is working to create a stronger and more prosperous north. Other initiatives include:
•A $1.8 billion investment, over the next five years, in upgraded and expanded northern highways.
•Continuing annual contributions of $60 million to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) to support private-sector job creation, youth training and emerging technologies, while continuing to invest in public infrastructure projects that support economic development.
•Investments in northern health care, including $25 million to reduce wait times in the north, $6.6 million for telemedicine, and major hospital expansions and improvements in Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay, Sioux Lookout, Thunder Bay and Sudbury.

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