Peat fire a tough fight

FORT FRANCES—Ministry of Natural Resources fire personnel are busy fighting a peat fire burning about 10 km northwest of Fort Frances.
The fire, which was reported Sunday morning burning in the harvesting area of Sun Gro (formerly Normiska) property in Miscampbell, is about two hectares in size, local MNR fire management technician Marney Brown said Tuesday afternoon.
“The crew is still working in the area. There’s several windrows of peat that are burning,” she noted. “So the winds have proven to be quite a challenge for us with spotting and whatnot.
“The crew is working to contain that fire. It’s still not classified as ‘being held’ yet.
“We do have staff on site, and hopefully the weather that’s supposed to be coming in tonight [Tuesday] is going to be providing quite a bit of relief for us,” added Brown.
“But they are still working quite hard at that fire, and it is proving challenging given the conditions out there and that it is burning in peat.”
Brown noted the fire was attacked by a waterbomber on Sunday, and crews continue to use large quantities of water to soak it.
“It’s a stubborn fuel to be working in. The fires can burn very deeply, and they require a lot of water to put them out,” she explained. “We’re trying to contain it, and minimize the potential for new fires in the surrounding area.
“But peat fires tend to be deep-burning, smouldering fires that do take quite a bit of time and quite a bit of water to actually put them out,” she added. “And due to the fact they’re in windrows, it increases the challenge.”
Brown added smoke from this fire has been very noticeable to area residents.
“Smoke is definitely a concern with that fire. We’ve had primarily west winds,” she said.
“But we are expecting over the next few days that the winds will be switching and it’s very likely people will notice an increase in smoke in town.”
Brown said the fire is under investigation, and it’s too early to know what the probable cause was.
Other recent fires in Fort Frances District include a 1.5-ha blaze in Flanders, where a tree fell on a power line (this was expected to be “out” by last night), and a one-hectare fire near Mine Centre, which is expected to be “out” later today.
In other news, the Fort Frances Fire Department was called to a tractor-trailer fire on the corner of Eighth Street and McIrvine Avenue at 4:25 p.m. on Friday, Fort Frances Fire Chief Gerry Armstrong said yesterday.
The parked vehicle was ablaze when crews arrived, with damage estimated at $25,000.
No one was injured nor was any surrounding property damaged.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the fire department and the OPP.
Firefighters also were called to an fire alarm at the Westfort Apartments on Saturday afternoon, but it turned out there was no actual fire.
(Fort Frances Times)