The Ministry of Natural Resources reported 26 new forest fire starts in the northwest region over the long weekend, plus an additional nine more as of Tuesday evening. MNR fire information officer for the west fire region Travis Moffatt said Tuesday that a majority of the fires were lightning-caused, the result of lightning activity that occurred throughout the weekend. A few though have been human-caused, the result of carelessness, said Moffatt of some of the new fires. And they could have been prevented. Of the 26 weekend fires, which included two on Saturday, eight on Sunday and 16 on Monday, Moffatt said 22 have been extinguished with only four that started Monday remaining active. All the fires over the weekend responded well to aggressive initial attack by water bombers and fire rangers, said Moffatt, noting that all the weekend fires were also contained to under 0.6 hectares in size. Tuesdays fires included three in Nipigon District, four in the Thunder Bay District and two in the Dryden District. Moffatt said the two small Dryden District fires were nearly under control, classified as held extinguished, as of Tuesday evening. Dryden Fire 26, about 20 kilometres southeast of Ignace, was 0.3 hectares, while Dryden Fire 27, located approximately 70 km northeast of Ignace, was 0.1 hectares. There were two other Dryden District fires that began on Monday of the long weekend, both of which are now out. Dryden Fire 24 was 20 km southwest of the City of Dryden while Fire 25 was 15 km southeast of Dryden. Another Monday blaze, Fort Frances District Fire 18, is classified as a prescribed fire located in Quetico Park. Moffatt said similar to earlier fires there Fort Frances 9 and 14 it will be observed and allowed to burn to help renew the natural forest ecosystem there. In the Red Lake District, a small fire about 50 km southwest of the Township of Red Lake that started on Monday, is now out. In the Kenora District, the only fire over the weekend occurred on Sunday morning. Kenora Fire 27 was a small, lightning-caused 0.1-hectare fire approximately 25 km southwest of Sioux Narrows. Moffatt said a fire ranger team led by Brett Caputo was dispatched from Kenora Fire Management Headquarters and had the fire out in just over one hour. With more thunderstorms forecast for today, Moffatt said there could be more new fire starts later this week. There is definitely the potential that we could receive lightning from these storms that could result in potential new fire starts, said Moffatt. Some of the major fires burning in the eastern part of the region are coming under control after a weekend of tough conditions. Moffatt said Nipigon District Fire 52, now 134 hectares in size, was classified as under control on Monday evening. The Terry Ruuska incident management team from Kenora, sent last week to manage the fire, has been released, handing control back over to the Greenstone Fire Management Headquarters. The two Thunder Bay District fires near Armstrong, Fire 30 and 31, are now 429 hectares and 1,428 hectares respectively. Moffatt said good progress was made on the fires over the weekend and minimal growth in size was reported. The fire hazard is moderate to extreme across the entire west fire region. Moffatt said it is moderate to high in the Kenora, Red Lake and Fort Frances Districts, and increases as one goes east with the mid-sections of Nipigon District and the northern section of the Thunder Bay District having an extreme fire hazard.
By Dan Gauthier Miner and News Wednesday August 03, 2005