Fire crews still on spring alert

Although only seven blazes have been reported in the Fort Frances District since the fire season officially began April 1, Ministry of Natural Resources FireRanger crews are keeping on their toes.
“The spring continues to be cooler that normal. What that does is extend our spring fire season,” said Matt Myers, a fire management supervisor with the MNR here.
“So we’ve yet to have what we call ‘green up’—the buds on the trees and plants have yet to flush. And the long grass is staying yellow a lot longer,” he added.
“We’re still kind of in spring fire hazard mode, and are concerned when we get sunny days because of the potential for fires and grass fuels,” he warned.
Most of the seven fires reported here since April 1 were small grass ones, Myers noted.
Meanwhile, the MNR has been trying to overcome some of the delays in firefighter training caused by the recent strike by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).
“We’re into a massive training program right now. For the past week, we’ve been ramping our crews up and undertaken mandatory training, like hover exit training, WHMIS, transportation of dangerous goods, and mandatory orientation,” said Myers.
“It’s going very well.”
Myers also noted MNR fire management staff and Rainy River First Nations successfully conducted a four-hectare prescribed burn at the Manitou Mounds on Monday.
“The Manitou Mounds are probably one of the most important centres of early settlement and ceremonial burial in Canada. At this site, there was a vibrant continent-wide trade network,” Myers said.
“When the indigenous peoples travelled there each spring to meet with the Euro-Canadians, they would burn the area to make room for their teepees. After many years, this created a unique ecosystem.
“It’s a prairie oak-savannah ecosystem that’s developed there. And to work to preserve that, we’ve developed a relationship with the Rainy River First Nations Watershed Program,” Myers noted.