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Over 130 forest fires in northwestern Ontario, air quality statements issued

Thursday, July 29th 2021, 8:25 pm - Fire hazard is moderate to high across most of the region, with some pockets of extreme hazard

Environment Canada has again issued air quality statements for much of northwestern Ontario due to forest fires, which numbered over 130 on Thursday.

The statements are for the Atikokan, Thunder Bay, Dryden, Ignace, Fort Frances, Webequie, Geraldton, Manitouwadge, Hornepayne, Kenora, Nipigon, Marathon, Red Lake, Pickle Lake, Pikangikum and Sioux Lookout areas.

Environment Canada warned smoke in both northwestern Ontario and eastern Manitoba is reducing air quality and visibility.

The warnings come as Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services (AFFES) officials work to address the fires.

CBC water bombers chris marchand More than 130 forest fires were burning in northwestern Ontario on Thursday morning. (Submitted by Chris Marchand)

The larger ones include:

  • Red Lake 65, about 18,300 hectares and burning six kilometres northwest of Poplar Hill First Nation; the community has been evacuated.
  • Red Lake 51, about 51,900 hectares and burning about 24 kilometres west of Deer Lake First Nation; the community has been evacuated.
  • Sioux Lookout 60, about 1,480 hectares and burning about eight kilometres west of Cat Lake First Nation; the community is partially evacuated.
  • Red Lake 77, about 27,100 hectares, 33 kilometres west of Red Lake, not under control.
  • Kenora 51, about 156,300 hectares, in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park, not under control.

AFFES said the fire hazard is moderate to high in most areas of the northwest, although there are pockets of extreme hazard in the Sioux Lookout and Dryden districts.

RESTRICTIONS LISTED

A restricted fire zone remains in effect in the Kenora, Fort Frances, Dryden and Thunder Bay districts, and portions of the Sioux Lookout, Red Lake and Nipigon districts. Outdoor burning is prohibited in those areas.

The province has also issued an emergency order for northwestern Ontario that allows it to take special measures "to ensure the safety of people and the protection of critical property."

The restrictions apply to certain industrial operations that have the potential to cause sparks and start fires. A complete list of affected operations is available on Ontario's forest fire information page.

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