Forest fires

With the fire season winding down at the end of the month, the Ministry of Natural Resources fire headquarters here hasn’t seen too many fires for a second year in a row.
“As far as fire response goes, we’ve had few calls,” sector response officer Marnie Brown said last week. “Generally, it’s been a fairly quiet season.
“There hasn’t really been any busy time,” she added.
The most recent fires MNR crews responded to were a trio of lightning-caused blazes close to Highway 502, northeast of Fort Frances. “But they were kept small and put ‘out,’” noted Brown.
This fire season, which began April 1, has seen 58 fires to date in Fort Frances District, consuming about 100 hectares.
Brown noted most of the fires were lightning-caused and some were prescribed burns, such as the one conducted in Quetico Provincial Park last month.
“We had no real problems. The numbers were a little higher than last year, though,” she added.
Last year, Fort Frances District saw only 20 fires while the entire province had only just 535–one above the record low of 534 set in 1923.
The West Fire Region has seen a total of 554 fires to date, consuming 6,220.2 ha.
“It was an interesting summer because of the 554 fires we have listed, there were 100 fires in one weekend,” noted MNR fire information officer Deb McLean.
“Then, we would have stretches of time when we had no fires at all.”
The quiet season here allowed local MNR firefighters to again be dispatched abroad to lend aid.
“We sent crews to the East Fire Zone [eastern Ontario] in July and in August, we had three crews helping out in Washington and Montana,” noted Brown.
Meanwhile, with hunting season now in full swing, Brown noted the fire season isn’t over. And before the area sees snow on the ground, anything’s possible, she warned.
“The fire hazard is ‘low’ but people shouldn’t be complacent with campfires,” she stressed. “They can still get out of control if unattended or not properly extinguished.”