Wind, heat fan forest fire

Wind, heat fan forest fire

22June 2005


As Northwestern Ontario’s first major forest fire of the season continuedto spread rapidly Tuesday in a remote area northeast of Lake Nipigon, fire crewsattempted to literally fight fire with fire.

The 35-square-kilometre blaze 40 kilometres above the lake’s northeastern tipwas too hot to fight with conventional ground crews.

Using helicopters, fire bosses set back-burn fires around swamps and lakes fromthe air to try and prevent the main fire from spreading further by burning upany wood fuels in its path.

“They’re trying to get (the set) fires to burn into the main fire,” saidMinistry of Natural Resources information officer Travis Moffatt.

While efforts to limit the fire continued, Buchanan Forest Products tried tosave, by one estimate, up to 10,000 cords of logs intended for the company’stwo lumber mills in nearby Nakina and Longlac before they were consumed by thefire.

“We can’t afford to lose one single stick of wood,” said Buchananspokesman Hartley Multamaki.

“They’re loading it on trucks, trying to get it out of there as quickly asthey can.”

Multamaki said if the 10,000 figure is accurate, it would represent 25,000 cubicmetres of timber and a five-day supply at the mills.

The fire, known as Nipigon 20, grew another 200 hectares Tuesday as a result ofhigh winds and dry conditions. About 70 firefighters and waterbombers have beendispatched to combat the blaze, caused by a Sunday lightning strike.

As of Tuesday evening, the fire was not threatening any communities, butresidents in the Municipality of Greenstone occasionally smelled smoke, saidGreenstone protective services manager Mike Hammer.

Meanwhile, four new small forest fires started Tuesday, including a one-ha blaze80 km north of Thunder Bay.

“(MNR) encourages everyone to use extreme caution with all outdoor fires,”said a ministry news release. “Consider postponing (brush) burning and the useof camp stoves until conditions are safer.”

Moffatt said the fire hazard is “high and on the rise.”

Forest fire management has all its resources ready to respond to the increasedhazard, Moffatt said.

Nearly 70 fire ranger crews and personnel from the West Fire Region, deployed toQuebec earlier this month, returned home June 16.

“So definitely, we have all the necessary resources to respond to any firestarts,” Moffatt said.


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