MNR fire crews back from B.C.

With lower temperatures and rain having cooled the fire situation in British Columbia, some 300 MNR firefighters and agency reps have returned home to Ontario, including more than 150 from the West Fire Region.
“They’re all back, or in preparation to come back,” MNR fire information officer Deb McLean said Tuesday morning, adding only one MNR air attack officer remains abroad, stationed with two CL-415 waterbombers with a Bird-dog aircraft in Fairbanks, Alaska.
McLean noted while the normal dispatch period for a long-term assignment is 19 days, most staff out west were gone for less than two weeks.
“They went out there as requested, but thanks to their efforts, and a change in the weather, the situation got a lot better. They were demobilized and sent home,” she said.
While the MNR fire season is not over until Oct. 31, it clearly is winding down here, noted McLean. The number of MNR firefighters on staff will be decreasing in the next month as the crews are seasonal workers, and many of them are students.
But if a fire situation were to arise, the remaining fire management officers could mobilize and form attack crews to battle blazes.
McLean said the slow fire season in the region has made for an “interesting year.”
“There’s been 204 fires so far this year. This time last year, there were over 800 fires,” she noted. “On average, we see 760 fires a season.
“Even though we’ve spent most of the season with a ‘moderate’ to ‘low’ fire hazard, there really hasn’t been a week that’s gone by without a fire,” added McLean.
“There’s been a need for the FireRangers here. It wasn’t like nothing happened for weeks, and then 200 fires started all at once.
“But if you take the number of fires we’ve had and divide it by the number of days so far in the fire season, you’ll see there was always something to do.”
No new fires were reported Monday in the West Fire Region. This follows only one small blaze reported Sunday in Thunder Bay District.
That fire is now “out.”
The forest fire hazard remains “low” across the region, with four fires still considered active and being observed. Two are in Quetico Park in the Fort Frances District while the other two are in Nipigon District.
All lightning-caused fires, these blazes are being monitored but not suppressed as they serve a purpose—to renew the forest ecosystem without an impact on people or industry.

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