TORONTO – Rain and unwavering efforts by firefighters have led to progress in the battle against forest fires in northern Ontario.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources said Tuesday there has been a slight decrease in the number of fires raging across the province and the biggest fire in the northeast is no longer out of control.
Fire information officer Shayne McCool said as of Tuesday afternoon there are 120 active fires, including 76 in the northwest region and 44 in the northeast.
McCool said the largest fire in the northeast, known as “North Bay 72” and burning about 30 kilometres west of Temiskaming Shores, is no longer out of control.
He said the blaze hasn’t grown and is now classified as “being held” which McCool said means the fire is one classification away from being under control.
“It’s at the step between not under control and under control essentially,” he said. “This is certainly very good progress for us.”
The blaze began on July 8 and covers about 272 square kilometres. McCool said the rain and lack of wind will help contain the blaze.
Another large fire, dubbed “Parry Sound 33,” is about 113 square kilometres and remains out of control. However, the ministry said crews now have hose lines around the perimeter of the fire.
An evacuation order for residents of several communities in the French River area remains in effect and as do numerous travel restrictions.
“We’ve had some good news in recent days, but it’s still a very busy fire season. I want to remind the public, especially people living near active fires, to stay alert and always keep safety in mind,” Natural Resources and Forestry Minister Jeff Yurek said in a statement.
The ministry says almost 1,000 firefighters from Ontario are attacking fires from the air and on the ground, aided by about 480 firefighters from out province and support staff, along with aircraft.
The ministry says there have been 918 forest fires so far this year compared to 354 in 2017.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said the largest fire in the northeast was the “Parry Sound 33” fire.