Air quality statements were issued for parts of northwestern Ontario where more than 160 fires were burning Thursday morning.
Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services (AFFES) said the fire risk remains high to extreme in the eastern parts of the region, as well as in areas of Red Lake, Dryden and Sioux Lookout Districts, but it is low to moderate in the southwest. parts of the region and the Far North.Recent rains have slowed down some of the larger fires, including Red Lake 65, which is about seven kilometers northwest of Poplar Hill First Nation, one of the communities that were evacuated.
The precipitation helped fire suppression efforts at Red Lake 51, AFFES said. It covers approximately 51,000 hectares and burns 24 kilometers west of the Deer Lake First Nation, which was also evacuated.
AFFFES said drier and warmer conditions are expected to return this week in areas of both of these fires, likely leading to more active fire behavior.
Elsewhere in the region, Sioux Lookout 60 covers approximately 850 hectares and is located eight kilometers west of the Cat Lake First Nation, which is partially evacuated.
Red Lake 77, listed as approximately 23,000 hectares Thursday morning, is about 28 kilometers northwest of Madsen and 33 kilometers west of Red Lake, although AFFES said the fire had not “significantly” approached the community in recent days.
Kenora 51 continues to burn in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park and covers approximately 136,000 hectares and is uncontrolled.
Environment Canada issued air quality statements due to smoke on Thursday for the Atikokan, Dryden, Ignace, Fort Frances, Kenora, Red Lake, Pikangikum and Sioux Lookout areas.
A restricted fire zone remains in effect in the Districts of Kenora, Fort Frances, Dryden and Thunder Bay, and in parts of the Districts of Sioux Lookout, Red Lake and Nipigon. Outdoor burning is prohibited in these areas.
Last week, the province issued an emergency order for northwestern Ontario, which allows Ontario to take special measures “to ensure the safety of people and the protection of essential property.”
Earlier this week, the province announced it was implementing new restrictions on certain mining, rail, construction and transportation operations that could cause sparks and fires; restrictions apply to some specific drilling operations, using heavy machinery with rubber tires and without chains, and grinding production of rails, in the region.
This is the second time the province has announced restrictions for the northwest under the emergency order. On Monday, the province announced restrictions on the use of mechanized equipment and power saws to harvest or process wood, as well as for welding, torching and grinding.
The restrictions will remain in place until further notice.