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Smoke from fires in Quebec and northern Ontario ‘blanketed’ Parry Sound over weekend

Smoke from forest fires up north and in Quebec ‘blanketed’ Parry Sound over the weekend, resulting in “unnecessary utilization” of 911 by some. 

Parry Sound Fire Chief Dave Thompson says the smoke caused concern for many people who woke up to the smell burning. 

“There were lots of 911 emergency calls received. […] Over the weekend we were just asking people, with the smell of smoke in the air, that if they could not see fire that they needed to not be calling 911,” he says. 

Thompson says the smoke has eased since, but there are still fires that are fairly big in Northern Ontario as well as in Quebec and we may have to deal with heavy smoke in the air again later on in the week. 

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For the meantime, if people have a serious concern and they’re confident there is a fire and it’s an emergency, he says to call 911.  

“However, if we do get smoke blowing into the area again on a fairly significant level we will be advising residents of the same thing. That they need to be cautious when calling 911 unless they know that there is a real emergency that exists,” he says. 

Thompson says Parry Sound is still at an extreme fire hazard and that is not going to change without a great deal of rain. 

“Some people think if they would get a little shower then it’s going to be OK. That’s not the case. Things are getting extremely dry where we need prolonged days of rainfall, gentle rainfalls to alleviate this situation. So currently there’s no burning. There’s a [Restricted Fire Zone implemented] by the Ministry of Natural Resources in place and there’s extensive fines for anyone who is burning,” he says. 

Thompson says municipal fines could range from $300 to $400, but the province, since they have issued an RFZ, could be issuing fines of $20,000 if they determined it was a warranted. 

“Although it’s summer and everyone wants to be camping and enjoying themselves around a campfire this is not the right time to be doing it,” he says. 

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