Parts of northeastern Ontario on evacuation notice as wildfires spread

Parts of northeastern Ontario on evacuation notice as wildfires spread

Ontario has put a large swath of homes on evacuation notice, emptied two provincial parks and called for help from other provinces as forest fires rage near the Quebec border.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry placed residents near Temagami, Ont., on notice Monday morning after 20 homes were evacuated Sunday as a fire approached the town along with other fires that have begun in the area.

“Fire North Bay 69,” as it’s known, is just kilometres from the town, said ministry spokeswoman Jolanta Kowalski. Ontario Provincial Police said the blaze was “dangerously close” to the evacuated homes.

As of Monday morning, there are 70 forest fires in the province’s northeast region with 33 of them not yet under control, Kowalski said.

“There’s high temperatures, dry conditions and a lot of thunderstorms,” she said, making ideal conditions for the start and spread of fires.

“The risk of wildland fires across most of northern Ontario is high and it’s especially challenging in the northeast right now because there are so many fires.”

Ontario Parks also evacuated two provincial parks, Finlayson Point and Marten River, “due to the significant risk from nearby forest fire activity.”

Neary 450 campers have gotten out safely, an Ontario Parks spokeswoman said. The parks will remain closed for the time being.

Jolanta said the ministry will be getting reinforcements from other provinces to join the 400 firefighters currently working the northeast quadrant of the province.

Numerous water bombers are operating during daylight hours in an effort to stop or control the spread of the fires, she said.

It has been a bad year for forest fires in Ontario with 504 recorded to date compared to 143 this time last year, according to the ministry’s data.

The area burned is up significantly as well, with 61,000 hectares damaged due to fire compared to 42,000 hectares last year, Kowalski said.

In Temagami, tensions are high, said Brian Koski, a local councillor and the head of the municipality’s emergency management committee.

“It’s very close to the town,” Koski said.

Smoke blanketed the area on Sunday, which led to one resident suffering an asthma attack, Koski said, but no one else has been injured.

There are several larger fires to the south of the town, he said.

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