MNR hoping for rain

Nearly one month into the Ministry of Natural Resources’ fire season, the fire hazard index reads “high” and local fire management still is hoping for some much-needed rain to cool down the volatile situation.
“Without any rain, the fine fuels have been exceptionally dry. The humidity has been so low lately, and that’s critical this time of the year,” MNR fire operations supervisor Gary Harland said Monday morning.
“It’s caused us a lot of concern and grief over the last couple days,” he added. “Hopefully, we have a day or two of relief here. The cloud cover was a nice sign this morning [Monday].
“This is the critical period for the Fort Frances District—with all our grasslands,” Harland warned. “Before the ‘leaf-out,’ it’s especially susceptible to large grassland fires.”
Fort Frances District has had a total of nine fires to date, and all have been human-caused.
The most recent—a 1.5 hectare blaze in Dance Township—was expected to be called “out” by day’s end Monday.
Harland said MNR fire management is keeping a very close eye on the weather patterns.
“Certainly yesterday [Sunday] with the high winds, they caused a lot of concern,” he remarked. “We feel very fortunate we got through yesterday without a lot of activity.
“Our neighbouring districts got very busy [Sunday]—Thunder Bay was very busy with several large fires on the go, Dryden has a good fire on the go, and Kenora has a fire on the go.”
The MNR contacted district municipalities on Friday to shut down any burning over the weekend because of the conditions, Harland noted, and would evaluate the situation Monday to decided whether or not to lift the restriction.
“People have to be very cautious,” he stressed. “If it’s windy, make sure you don’t burn. If it’s been dry for a period, certainly don’t burn.
“If you live in a municipality, contact your local fire official before you burn,” he added.