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Firefighters Still Busy in Ontario and Manitoba

May 23, 2010 — Firefighters in Ontario have new forest fires on their hands this weekend. The total number of fires in Ontario this season now stands at close to 370. Meanwhile, a forest fire in Manitoba is still raging out of control.

All across Ontario, fire crews are battling flames.

As of Sunday, officials have confirmed there were more than 30 active forest fires across the province, covering more than 3,500 hectares.

The fire hazard warning has ranges from Low in southern Ontario to Extreme in pockets around Pickle Lake and Lake Nipigon. The ratings are set in Ontario by the Ministry of Natural Resources and it is set to rise in other communities over the weekend as temperatures go up.

The forecast for the weekend could potentially bring lightning strikes to the northern parts of the province, which could fuel the ongoing fires and start up news ones.

The fires are so active, that tanker groups from both the Northwest Territories and Alberta are going to assist the fleet already fighting the flames in Ontario.

A restricted fire zone has been set up for areas north of the French River to the James Bay coast and from the Quebec border west to the Pic River. The zone will stay in effect until conditions improve. As of right now, all burning permits are suspended and open fires are prohibited.

Some campfires are allowed at provincial campgrounds if they meet certain criteria. People are still allowed to use portable gas stoves, but are being asked to exercise extreme caution.

Meanwhile, more than ten fires are burning in Manitoba.

Health officials on the Berens River reserve say that the smoke conditions have improved enough to let people back into the community on Saturday.

Those who suffer from respiratory-related issues and seniors left the First Nation reserve on Thursday, due to the smoke wafting in from a nearby forest fire.

The winds blew the smoke into the community on Friday, blanketing the area with thick black smoke. The fire continues to burn about 17 kilometers northwest from the reserve, and has doubled in size since Thursday.

Around 80 firefighters are on the scene trying to contain the flames. Helicopters and water bombers have also been deployed to help extinguish the flames.

The following are some tips from the federal government to reduce forest fires and to ensure safety.

  • Always build a safe campfire
  • Build your fire on bare soil or exposed rock, away from wind and tents/buildings
  • Keep a pail of water and a shovel nearby
  • Make sure the fire is never left unattended and completely extinguished before leaving the site
  • Contact your local fire department before burning

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