MNR wants residents to still consider fire safety despite slow fire season in Northwestern Ontario
By Eric Shih, Local Journalism Initiative ReporterHeadlines News Hot Topics
July 20, 2022, Ontario – The Ministry of Natural Resources says people in northwestern Ontario should still be careful even though forest fires are significantly down from record levels experienced from last year.
Chris Marchand, a fire information officer for the MNR, said the area burned to date is less than one per cent of what burned in 2021, adding the late snow melt and wet spring have helped with conditions that lower fire risk. As well, since drought conditions in the soil are not the same as last year, the lightning strikes from recent storms haven’t started as many fires.
But Marchand cautioned people should still be mindful conditions could turn around.
“We are here in the height of the fire season,” said Marchand. “So there’s plenty of potential to see more fire activity on the landscape should the weather trend towards hot dry and windy weather conditions.”
Marchand, who is based out of Dryden, Ont., said there were two confirmed fires in the Nipigon area on Thursday.
“So, there are pockets of high hazard out there where the potential exists for fires to happen,” said Marchand. “It’s not on a wide basis like it was last year when we had you know, two months without any appreciable rainfall to knock it down.”
He said with the decrease in fire activity, the MNR has been able to provide personnel to help other areas in need. Marchand said staff were sent to help with clean up in Ottawa after that region was hit with storms. And earlier this week, two people working on logistics were sent on a planned two-week deployment to the Yukon to help with their fire situation.
Marchand says this has also allowed staff to catch up on things that weren’t possible to do last year including training and public outreach at community events.
Marchand said with the many storms experienced in the area, property owners maybe cleaning up and clearing brush caused by storms. He is asking people to think about alternatives to burning including chipping or at least delay any burning until after the fire season ends at the end of October.
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