2018 fire season ends in Northwest Region
THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO November 4, 2018 (LSN) In a year marked by large, problematic forest fires burning relatively close to populations, properties and major travel corridors in the province’s Northeast Fire Region, a busy though less visible fire season unfolded in the more remote corners of the Northwest Region.
The Northwest Region claimed 839 of the provincial total of 1325 fires, easily outstripping the 10 year average for all fires across the province (756). The Northwest Region accounted for 213,695 hectares or 77 per cent of the total hectares affected by wildland fire in the province (276,356 hectares).
Fires near remote First Nation communities such as North Spirit Lake, Pikangikum and Sachigo Lake, among others, posed challenges early in the season. The province’s largest fire, Nipigon 30, established itself east of the community of Nibinamik - eventually growing to 32,850.5 hectares.
Assistance from out-of-province personnel and aircraft helped officials carefully manage periods of strain on the region’s available firefighting resources while crews were concentrated in the Northeast.
It was another year of significant forest fire activity in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park, which saw over 40 fires burn over 51,000 hectares. These fires were largely left to burn under observation, playing a regenerative role to clean up storm and insect-damaged areas within the park.
· Total fires: 84
· Total hectares: 37.7 hectares
Fires of note: The district’s largest fire of the season was Dryden 71 at 4.4 hectares. The fire was located on the eastern shore of Winnange Lake on August 30 and was declared out September 4.
Fort Frances District
· Total fires: 76
· Total hectares: 2,900
Fire of note: Fort Frances 24 burned under observation in Quetico Provincial Park from July 29 until October 9 affecting 2,810 hectares and causing backcountry travel restrictions in the park.
· Total fires: 146
· Total hectares: 10,688
Fire of note: Kenora 71 represented the largest suppression effort in the Northwest over the 2018 fire season. A basecamp in Minaki was a staging ground for as many as 25 sustained-attack crews, most visiting from nearby provinces and the Great Lakes States. Smoke drift moving south from the fire prompted the leadership of Wabaseemoong Independent Nation to declare a state of emergency as well as evacuate 70-80 vulnerable members of the community for several days until air quality conditions improved. The 10,272 hectare fire began July 15 and was declared out September 27.
· Total fires: 72
· Total hectares: 52,962.
Fire of note: The province’s largest fire of 2018 at 32,850.5 hectares, Nipigon 30 was sparked July 8 east of Nibinamik (Summer Beaver). Ontario FireRangers and an ignition team focused their efforts on limiting the spread of the fire towards the community while allowing the fire to burn under observation for most of the summer. The fire was declared out on September 11.
Red Lake District
· Total fires: 208
· Total hectares: 104,328.2
Fires of note: At 27,968.1 hectares, Red Lake 97 was the largest of a complex of fires burning under observation in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park over the summer. The fire was first reported July 17 and declared out September 21. Over 40 fires in the park resulted in back country travel restriction over the 2018 fire season.
Forest fuels affected by jack pine budworm infestation also proved receptive to early and later season fires west of Poplar Hill near the Manitoba border. Red Lake 30 crossed the Manitoba border in Ontario on May 22, claiming 3,506.8 hectares. On August 16, Red Lake 171 established itself to the east of the former fire and would claim 9,401.1 hectares before it was declared out on September 13.
Sioux Lookout District
· Total Fires: 167
· Total hectares: 34,150.2
Fire of note: Sioux Lookout 57 was first spotted July 8 and burned 9,689.3 hectares south of Wunnummin Lake. The fire was declared out on September 3.
Thunder Bay District
· Total Fires: 73
· Total hectares: 8,548.7
Fire of Note: Thunder Bay 52 was reported August 13 and burned under observation in Wabakimi Provincial Park to a size of 8,306.6 hectares until it was declared out on September 27. The fire resulted in backcountry travel restrictions within the park.
The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) manages movement between jurisdictions through the Mutual Aid Resource Sharing Agreement (MARS). Provinces and territories are able to share resources by putting in requests to CIFFC. Due to a busy fire season across the country in 2018, resources were requested from and sent across the country throughout the fire season.
For the 2018 fire season, Ontario provided 101 support staff and 407 FireRangers to help with fire situations in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
Ontario received 799 forest firefighters and 128 support staff and/or equipment from Saskatchewan, Mexico, Minnesota, Wisconsin, British Columbia, Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Parks Canada and New Brunswick during the 2018 fire season.