‘Restricted fire zone’ in effect

Extreme fire behaviour has forced the Ministry of Natural Resources to place a ban on all open burning in the southern half of the West Fire Region.
The ban–which went into effective as of midnight Thursday and extends until Monday–means no fires may be ignited for cooking or warmth anywhere in the Fort Frances District, and most of the Kenora, Dryden, and Thunder Bay districts.
“We had five fires yesterday,” Harrold Boven, MNR sector response officer, said this morning. “Three in Quetico Park, one in Mine Centre, and another one 25 km southeast of Mine Centre.”
Boven noted two of the Quetico fires and the one southeast of Mine Centre were lighting-caused, while the other two were caused by people.
“With the bush conditions being extremely dry, three had to be attacked by waterbombers, as well as ground crews,” he noted. “The crews are still there this morning.”
The fire hazard here continues to be listed as “high to extreme.”
“If people are going out camping, they should be extremely cautious. The forest fuels are extremely dry,” warned Boven. “Make sure you use a propane or gas stove.
“And if you’re using that, be at least one metre away from any fuels,” he stressed.
Local MNR fire crews are expected to be busy this weekend, with forecasted thunderstorms likely causing some lightning-caused blazes. Fort Frances District has seen 35 fires to date since the season officially began April 1.
There have been more than 50 new fires across the region since last Friday. Some of these required multiple fire crews and waterbombers to hold them in check before they could be put “out.”
Despite very dry conditions, not a single fire has escaped, the MNR reported. Still, the risks are extremely high and implementing the fire ban was necessary to eliminate the possibility of any new fires being caused by people.
Under the RFZ, all open burning is prohibited, including fires for cooking or warmth. The regulation does permit the use of portable stoves or charcoal installations intended for that purpose.
Those who do not obey the fire ban will be fined.
“There’s varying degrees of fines,” noted Jeff Antoszek, MNR fire information officer. “You could be charged for the entire cost of putting the fire out, or you could get fined the amount of the provincial offence (up to $1,000).”
The restricted area specifically includes all lands bordered on the Ontario-Manitoba border, south of the CN Rail line which runs east to the Little Jackfish River, west of Lake Nipigon and the Nipigon River to Pine Portage Dam, and west of the transmission line to Dorion Township.
It also includes areas north and west of a line following the boundaries of the townships of Dorion and Shuniah, Thunder Bay, Oliver, Paipoonge, and Connee, O’Connor, Gillies, Pearson, and Pardee to the international border.