Forest fire hazard staying low across northwestern Ontario

Rainy weather, cool temperatures expected to keep fire activity down

Wet weather and cooler temperatures are expected to keep northwestern Ontario's forest fire hazard low.

This week's storm brought heavy rain and even some snow to the region, and while the skies have been sunny since, that isn't expected to last, said Alison Bezubiak, fire information officer with Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services (AFFES).

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"Looking ahead, it's difficult to predict how the fire season will develop as wildland fires are very much a weather-driven phenomenon," she said. "So weather patterns will be a major factor in determining how busy fire season will be in the long term."

"But in the short term … the northwest region has received significant precipitation over the last few days in the form of both heavy rains and even snow in some parts of the northern sectors," Bezubiak said. "Another developing weather system is expected to bring more rainfall on Friday and into the weekend."

"The high levels of precipitation and cool temperatures should help to keep the wildland fire hazard low in the Northwest region over the coming days."

Thunder Bay, Ont. smoke/Marc Doucette/CBC

(Marc Doucette/CBC)

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Bezubiak said, however, it's possible the recent storm could still produce more fire starts in the region.

"There's always potential for holdover fires," she said. "If there have been lightning strikes that came in contact with the ground, there is potential for holdover fires to appear days, even weeks after the storm came through, once the water has dried up from the ground."

According to the AFFES update on Thursday, there was one fire burning in northwestern Ontario.

Dryden 5 is burning about 20 kilometres west of Ignace, beside Highway 17. The 9.5-hectare fire is listed as under control.

"Every fire season is different," Bezubiak said. "Since the start of fire season on April 1, the northwest region has confirmed a total of 30 wildland fires that have burned across 44 hectares."

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"Provincially, we're seeing a significantly lower than average number of hectares burned so far this season," she said. "We've logged 154.5 hectares burned within Ontario's fire region, compared to the 10-year average of over 10,600 hectares burned by the same point in the season."

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"So at the moment, we are below both the 10-year average for total number of fires and total number of hectares burned."

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Thumbnail courtesy of Marc Doucette/CBC.

The story was originally written by Kris Ketonen and published for CBC News.