Parts of Toronto, York and Peel regions under ‘extreme’ forest fire risk: federal government

As Alberta and British Columbia deal with forest fires, experts in Ontario urge caution until the end of October when conditions are prime for fires in this province. Nick Westoll reports.

As hot and humid air arrives in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), federal government officials say parts of the region are currently in an “extreme” forest fire danger risk.

According to Canadian Wildland Fire Information System mapping data on Wednesday, the areas with the greatest risk are the eastern parts of Brampton and Mississauga, the southern parts of Vaughan, Richmond Hill and Markham, and large portions of Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough in Toronto. Officials classified these regions are “extreme” and at the highest threat level out of the five categories.

A part of Barrie along with Essa, Borden and north of New Tecumseth, along with most of southwestern Ontario, were also under the “extreme” classification.

Other surrounding communities in the GTHA and southern Ontario are under a “high” rating.

The fire danger ratings are calculated to determine the ease vegetation can catch fire, how difficult it could be to control a potential fire and how much damage a fire could cause.

RELATED: Experts urge caution as forest fire season ramps up in Ontario, flames spread in the west

For areas deemed at “extreme” danger risk, officials said a wildland fire could be “fast-spreading” and “high-intensity,” one that would be “very difficult to control.” For areas classified as a “high” danger risk, they said it would be challenging for ground crews and could create conditions for a “moderate to vigorous surface fire with intermittent crown involvement.”

The Natural Resources Canada website noted the classifications are “approximations based on available data and may not show the most current fire situation.” Staff noted the data changes daily and it could be updated throughout the day.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) coordinate responses to forest and wildland fires for most of the province. There are more than a dozen fires currently occurring in Ontario and a majority are deemed under control or are being watched.

MNRF staff don’t have fire danger warnings or data for Toronto or the surrounding areas on the ministry’s forest fire map, but areas near Owen Sound, Orillia and Peterborough are under an “extreme” fire danger rating.

The forecast in Toronto calls for daytime temperature highs of 30 C and above until Saturday when the forecast daytime high will drop to 22 C, which is around the normal temperature for this time of year. There is no precipitation in Environment Canada’s seven-day forecast.

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