Two fires so far this spring: MNR

With the fire season underway as of April 1, the Ministry of Natural Resources has reported just two blazes so far in the West Fire Region.
Fire information officer Deb MacLean said Monday the first was a small chip pile fire in Nipigon last week while the second was a minor grass fire just west of Kenora on Sunday, which was extinguished by one crew with a pumper truck.
But MacLean warned the situation could quickly heat up.
“We’re in a ‘high’ hazard time of the year because of the circumstances where you’ve got pretty much all dead vegetation, and the new growth hasn’t started on any of the trees, grass, or shrubs,” she noted.
“It’s what we call flammable or volatile conditions—any source of ignition would mean you’re probably up and running with a fire.
“Our main concern is human-caused fires, particularly in the rural areas, where they have a tradition of burning brush and grass,” added MacLean. “Our most difficult and dangerous fires of the spring are human-caused fires in a populated area.”
Anyone planning to do large-scale burning in an unorganized area needs a plan and should contact the local MNR.
This is similar to a prescribed burn where those planning the fire must set out the parameters of the fire, determine how it’s going to be managed, and have those details approved by the MNR prior to any burning.
Those living in organized areas should check with their local fire department before burning.
The Frances Fire Department follows the Forest Fire Prevention Act guidelines, in that a town resident cannot light a fire more than two hours before sunset and it must be extinguished within two hours after sunrise.
In related news, MacLean said MNR Fire Ranger crew leaders are undergoing leadership training in preparation for a full complement crew members to come on board.
These crews should be on the job at the beginning of May.
MNR aircraft and equipment also have been serviced and are ready to go if any fires do break out.
“We’re set and ready to go,” said MacLean.
The MNR also is monitoring both storm-damaged trees and trees damaged by the jack pine budworm in wooded areas of the region.
Not only do dead trees pose a fire hazard themselves, but they can be an obstacle to firefighters who always must have an secure escape route when fighting fires.