With hot and dry weather covering most of Ontario, officials say the region’s fire danger rating is inches away from being upped.
West Parry Sound Region Fire Coordinator Gord Harrison says he expects the Fire Danger Rating will be going to extreme sometime this week.
“We’re not quite there [yet], but I think we’re really close and the last time I looked at the map was still showing as high, but we’re surrounded by extreme right now. There’s just no rain in the forecast, so it’s only going to get drier, and the fire risks are only going to continue to increase,” he says.
Harrison advises residents in areas under a high rating still to bring along something to cook with like a propane appliance, to avoid making a fire.
“Don’t have campfires. In the very short order there will probably be a ban on campfires anyway, so be prepared for that. Just be extremely cautious. All we need is a little bit of bad luck right now because things are so dry. We get some high winds and we [may start seeing] some fires out of control here,” he says.
Harrison says Henvey Inlet First Nation has already made a decision to go to extreme as of noon on Monday. He says conditions are just a little bit drier up there, but it won’t be too long before it’s like that down here as well.
Meanwhile, according to the province’s forest fire map, a fire located near Henvey Inlet FN, dubbed Parry Sound 5, started Sunday at 5:22 PM.
John Ramsey, Fire Chief for Henvey Inlet First Nation, says the forest fire, which measured at 0.3 hectares as of Monday at 3pm according to the province, is currently under control. Ramsey says crews were still on scene as of 3 PM today (Monday).
“They have it contained and it should be pretty much out probably by tonight. This morning we moved our fire danger rating to extreme, with the extremely dry conditions. Our neighbors to the north, French River, has gone to extreme so we’re just following suit,” he says.
With the fire bans in effect for that region, Ramsey asks residents to understand and respect them. He says they’re in place for a reason to protect what we have, adding anyone who thinks otherwise needs to remember Parry Sound 33.
At its peak, Parry Sound 33 was the fourth largest forest fire in Ontario in 2018 growing to more than 11,300 hectares in size. It led to evacuations in Henvey Inlet First Nation, French River, Killarney and more. Fighting the fire was an international effort, with crews not only from all across Canada called in but also from the United States and Mexico.
“Please be aware and careful with cigarette butts. Please don’t discard them out on the highway, keep them in your vehicles and dispose of all your burning materials properly. The fire ban includes all open flames including propane equipment,” he says.
If you have any concerns, Ramsey says you can contact the local band office and they will gladly answer any questions.