Wildfires in focus this week Fire season still quiet

The Office of the Fire Marshal and Ministry of Natural Resources, for the first time, have declared this week (April 18-24) as “Wildfire Prevention Week” in Ontario.
While the fire season here has been quiet so far, with only four fires reported in the entire West Fire region since April 1, and none currently active, the MNR’s fire information officer said area residents should take time this week to brush up on how to be “FireSmart.”
“From a local perspective, there’s quite a few people who live where what we call the ‘wildland/urban interface,’” said Deb McLean. “This is a good opportunity to look at how they can make their homes safe from wildfires.”
McLean said the grave importance of this awareness was demonstrated last fire season when a grassfire got out of control in the Kenora area, resulting in a fatal house fire.
McLean noted all MNR offices have—or will shortly have—“FireSmart” fire safety packages available for the public to coincide with the provincial campaign.
These packages—developed in consultation with the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs and professional educators—focus on safeguarding homes, cottages, and structures that are adjacent to potentially dangerous combustible dense wildland vegetation.
McLean stressed spring is an unpredictable time of the year when it comes to grassfires and it’s entirely possible the MNR will see a rash of blazes—particularly those cause by human activity—at any time now.
She also noted burning during the day is prohibited right now. If anyone wants to do any burning at all, they should contact their local MNR office.
The effort to make communities safer by highlighting ways to prevent wildfires during Ontario’s first Wildfire Prevention Week was announced last week by Natural Resources minister David Ramsay, Community Safety and Correctional Services minister Monte Kwinter, and Ontario Fire Marshal Bernard Moyle.
“My ministry has worked closely with the Office of the Fire Marshal to support this worthwhile initiative,” said Ramsay. “In the interest of public safety, I encourage people to watch for fire hazards where they live and play.”
With this year marking the 60th anniversary of Smokey Bear’s efforts to promote wildfire prevention, the Fire Marshal and MNR have asked fire departments across Ontario to urge communities that could be affected by wildfire to be “FireSmart.”
“‘FireSmart’ is a fine example of an effective partnership among the provincial government, fire chiefs, local fire departments, professional educators, and the public,” said Kwinter.
“This collaborative initiative demonstrates this government’s commitment to ensuring community safety.”
“With the recent wildfire events in British Columbia and California, wildland/urban interface fires are becoming a serious concern to communities across Ontario,” added Moyle.
“Fire departments and forest fire agencies are recognizing the serious risk of wildfire and the potential for enormous loss of property and life.”
For this week, and throughout the summer, fire services will be encouraged to participate in activities to reach all members in their communities—from primary school children to adults—with a fire prevention message.