MNRF provides update on busy fire season
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) Fire Centre in Sioux Lookout, it has been a busy fire season.
After sending resources to contain fires in Manitoba and Saskatchewan in the early spring, MNRF fire management supervisor Jack Welch said Ontario became the prime focus in June. The North was initially the busiest sector with the rest of the province quickly catching up.
“It’s been a fairly steady fire season for us. Things started picking up near the middle of June, and we’ve been pretty busy since then. We were initially busier in the Northern sectors like Red Lake, Sioux Lookout and Greenstone. Since then, all of the southern sectors have gotten busy like Fort Frances, Kenora and basically the whole province. It’s been a busy last month and a half for us,” explained Welch.
“The weather has been our nemesis all summer long. There’s been lots of lightning fires. We haven’t had a good, steady two or three-day down pour of rain. We keep getting rain in these short systems and lightning comes in with those systems as well,” he said.
This year, the high need for FireRangers to attend fires has been felt not only at the MNRF headquarters but also in the community. The FireRangers Kids Day, which was to be held during the Sioux Lookout Blueberry Festival, had to be cancelled because of the need for staff to be at fires. The Festival made a post on their Facebook page on July 31 announcing the cancellation of the event.
Welch said the Sioux Lookout area is likely on pace to reach last year’s fire numbers, which was also a busy season.
“Locally we’re up to 102 fires so far on the year. Last year we ended up with around 240 fires here in Sioux Lookout. We’re probably on pace for that, but the difference this year is the east fire region is much busier than usual this year. Some of our resources are out there, but last year we had countless people from Sudbury and North Bay helping us here, so it’s all about resource sharing,” Welch concluded.