Northwestern Ontario under smoke alerts due to forest fires in region and Manitoba

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As northwestern Ontario continues its weeks-long battle against forest fires, Environment Canada has issued more air quality statements for the entire region due to smoke that’s also drifting in from Manitoba.

More than 110 forest fires were burning in northwestern Ontario on Wednesday. (Ontario Forest Fires/Twitter)

As northwestern Ontario continues its weeks-long battle against forest fires, Environment Canada has issued more air quality statements for the entire region due to smoke that’s also drifting in from Manitoba.

The alerts by Environment Canada on Wednesday come as 110 fires were reported in Ontario’s northwest.

The smoke, including from fires that have also long been burning in eastern Manitoba, is causing low air quality and reduced visibility.

Environment Canada has also released heat warnings for the Kenora, Red Lake, Fort Frances, Dryden, Ignace, Pikangikum and Sioux Lookout areas, where daytime temperatures were expected to reach the mid-30s C with the humidex.

Ontario’s interactive forest fire map showed over 110 fires as of Wednesday morning.

New fires recorded

Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services (AFFES) said five new fires were discovered by early afternoon on Tuesday.

They include:

  • Kenora 136, on the shore of Lake of the Woods, about 10 kilometres west of Nestor Falls. The two-hectare fire is not under control.
  • Red Lake 216, also not under control, at 1,015 hectare, is north of Artery Lake, about 104 kilometres northwest of Red Lake.

Elsewhere in the region, a fire burning about 20 kilometres from Wabaseemoong has grown, AFFES said.

Kenora 51 is now at more than 192,000 hectares and not under control, located north of Umfreville Lake. It hasn’t crossed to the south side of the lake.

AFFES said crews are working to protect the community, which is on standby for an evacuation.

Some communities evacuated

Several other communities, including First Nations, were evacuated or partially evacuated earlier.

Red Lake 65, which is at about 19,700 hectares, is burning six kilometres west of Poplar Hill First Nation. It’s one of the communities that have been evacuated.

Deer Lake First Nation has also been evacuated due to Red Lake 51, which is about 24 kilometres west of the community and is listed at about 52,000 hectares.

A partial evacuation of Cat Lake First Nation has also taken place, as Sioux Lookout 60 burns about eight kilometres to the west. The fire is holding at about 1,480 hectares.

A restricted fire zone remains in effect in the Kenora, Fort Frances, Dryden and Thunder Bay districts, and portions of the Sioux Lookout, Red Lake and Nipigon districts. Outdoor burning is prohibited in those areas.

The province has also issued an emergency order for northwestern Ontario that allows it to take special measures “to ensure the safety of people and the protection of critical property.”

The restrictions apply to certain industrial operations that have the potential to cause sparks and start fires. A complete list of affected operations is available on Ontario’s forest fire information page.

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