Too early to tell?

There might be a lot of fires . . . or there might not.
That’s what Paul Dutton, a fire information officer with the Ministry of Natural Resources fire centre in Dryden, had to say about rising concerns about the upcoming fire season.
Dutton admitted snow levels over much of Northwestern Ontario were lower than usual, adding the Fort Frances fire district probably would be free of snow by April 1.
He also noted moisture levels in the area were much lower than normal.
But despite the lack of moisture, Dutton believed it’s still too early to start worrying about heavy forest fire activity this summer.
“It’s really something we don’t project on what it might be,” he said. “We really haven’t done anything extraordinary yet.”
Although a balmy February melted most of the snow, below normal temperatures in March have kept the fire hazard extremely low. And Dutton said the key to keeping those hazards low will be getting plenty of rain this spring.
But whether we’re going to have a drought this spring is an issue for debate, Dutton said, noting there isn’t the scientific capability to forecast what the spring will be like–just like they can’t predict how many lightning strikes they’ll have in a season.
The only thing the MNR can do with its fire program is be ready to move whenever it’s needed.
“That’s the one ability we have with the fire program, to accelerate it or decelerate it as needed,” Dutton said. “If someone turns on the Weather Channel and it says in the next three-four days it’s going to be sunny and 15 C, we’re going to be doing a lot different things than now.”
Dutton said Fort Frances should be planning to have a few fire members on staff right now but added that’s a normal practice for this time of year.
He also said it’s normal practice to have one waterbomber ready to go in the area around the first of April, though he doesn’t expect there to be much use for it immediately.
The only thing the fire response units can do is watch the weather–and see what happens from there.
“If we continue in this trend of dry and we don’t get spring rains, then we’ll get nervous and then we’ll start putting out ads [about fire hazards],” Dutton said.
“But at this point in time, we’re not doing that,” he noted.
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