MNR fire crews on their way to Alberta

Duane Hicks

With more than 100 forest fires continuing to burn across Alberta, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is sending support there.
Fire management headquarters from across the Northwest and Northeast Regions have dispatched four 20-person crews, four strike team leaders, and one agency rep.
Fort Frances headquarters has sent one four-person FireRanger crew and one strike team leader as part of that total complement, local fire operations supervisor Bill Payne said this morning.
The personnel left for Alberta earlier today, getting picked up by an aircraft in Dryden and flying directly to Slave Lake.
Payne said they will be gone for 19 days, including 14 days on fire line assignment.
He also noted it’s possible more local FireRangers will be dispatched to Alberta.
“It is pretty dry out there right now with windy conditions. I believe they picked up 100 fires the other day,” said Payne.
“They have quite a few fires burning, so there’s definitely a possibility for more personnel movement,” he added.
Meanwhile, the fire situation is heating up here, with six new forest fires reported in the Northwest Region by the end of yesterday.
The total number of active fires in the region is now sitting at 10, including one here in Fort Frances District, one in Dryden District, four in Sioux Lookout District, one in Nipigon District, and three in Thunder Bay District.
One new fire was reported yesterday about 10 km northwest of Atikokan.
Fort Frances Fire #2 was a lightning-caused blaze that was kept under control at 1.0 hectare in size, noted Payne.
“I had a crew on there yesterday, and they pretty much have it out, but we’re going to send them back today just to do a walk-around. . . .
“We just want to make sure it’s 100 percent out,” he stressed.
Payne said the fire hazard is rising, and local crews are poised to respond to any new starts.
“We’ve dried out significantly. That’s the thing about the spring—you can go from zero to 60 in a few days,” he remarked.
“It’s really dry out there now and with this dry air mass over us, there’s really low RHs [relative humidities].
“I believe yesterday we had temperatures of 22 C and relative humidity of 20—that’s what we call a crossover when the temperature is higher than the RH,” Payne explained.
“It makes for really good burning days.”
Payne said they’ve got crews on red alert, and currently has the helicopter at the airport with a crew on alert.
“We’ve got them spread out around the district and just waiting for anything to happen,” he said.
In related news, the MNR sent a Birddog and CL-415 waterbomber to Manitoba as aviation support against a three-hectare fire burning about six km west of the Ontario/Manitoba border, MNR information officer (Northwest Region) Deb MacLean said in a press release late yesterday.
She added FireRanger road patrols are revealing a significant number of residents burning brush and grass during the day, which is outside of allowable hours according to the Forest Fires Prevention Act of Ontario.
MNR conservation officers have been called in to investigate these day-burning incidents.
Further information on safe outdoor fire management is available on the fire prevention website at ontario.ca/fireprevention
People living in organized municipalities and in First Nations’ communities must check with their local fire officials on bylaws for outdoor fires.
Report forest fires by calling toll-free 310-FIRE (3473).