Fire ban likely to remain in effect

It looks like the West Fire Region will remain under a restricted fire zone for the long weekend, Deb McLean, fire information officer for the Ministry of Natural Resources, said this morning.
“The Restricted Fire Zone seems to be working in raising people’s awareness of the fire hazard,” she noted. “But the hazard remains high-to-extreme across the region.
“Given there’s a long weekend coming up, the fire management would like to raise the RFZ and this is being reviewed. But there’s a good possibility it remain on,” Mc- Lean added.
The restricted fire zone was declared across the region last Thursday.
McLean said the problem remains that there’s not been enough precipitation this spring.
“Even with rain in the forecast, it has virtually no impact on the fire hazard,” she stressed. “The last rainfall we got [on Saturday], for instance, did nothing and was followed by turbulent winds that dried everything up quickly.
“We really are looking at a late spring as far as green growth goes.
It’s bone dry out there, and any fire will burn fast and very intensely,” she added.
McLean also noted the MNR has had its hands full dividing resources to fight many of the blazes this spring.
“They’ve usually required a ground and air attack to put them out. Some need eight FireRanger crews, waterbombers, heli-buckets,” she said. “It’s not like the smaller fires that might only need two crews.”^McLean added another factor has been that fires have mostly been caused by human activity.
That means the fire occurs in or near a populated area, where there’s property, residences, equipment, and people’s safety to consider when planning to attack it.
There currently are no fires burning in the Fort Frances, Dryden, Kenora, and Nipigon districts.
Red Lake has three in the Deer Lake area while Sioux Lookout has two and Thunder Bay one.
All of the current fires are deemed “under control” and remote, said McLean.
But she added, “What I want to stress is ‘Don’t get a false sine of security,’” referring to residents in districts with no current fires.
Fort Frances District has had a total of 21 blazes since the fire season began April 1. There’s been a total of 159 fires in the West Fire Region since April 1, consuming a total of 629.9 hectares.
Under the restricted fire zone, people can use portable gas stoves for cooking and warmth.
Charcoal barbecues only may be used within 100 metres of a permanent dwelling with the owner’s permission.
The RFZ covers an area from the Manitoba border to the west shore of Lake Nipigon, and from the international border extending north of the communities of Red Lake, Sioux Lookout, and Arm-strong.
The fire ban also extends eastward from the Nipigon River to the Pic River, and covers an area just north of Lake Superior to the international border.