Air quality statements have been issued for parts of northwestern Ontario as more than 160 fires were reported Thursday morning.
According to Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services (AFFES), the risk of fire remains high to extreme in the eastern parts of the region and in the Red Lake, Dryden and Sioux Lookout areas, but in the southwest it is low to moderate parts of the region and the far north .
Recent rains have slowed some of the larger fires, including Red Lake 65, which is about seven kilometers northwest of Poplar Hill First Nation, one of the communities that have been evacuated.
The rain has helped Red Lake 51 suppress fires, AFFES said. It is approximately 51,000 acres and burns 15 miles west of the also evacuated Deer Lake First Nation.
AFFES said drier and warmer conditions are expected in the areas of these two fires this week, which is likely to result in more active fire behavior.
Elsewhere in the region, Sioux Lookout 60 is about 850 acres and is eight kilometers west of Cat Lake First Nation, which is partially evacuated.
Red Lake 77, which was classified as approximately 23,000 acres Thursday morning, is located about 17 miles northwest of Madsen and 20 miles west of Red Lake, although AFFES said the fire hasn’t gotten “much” closer to the community in recent days.
Kenora 51 continues to burn in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park and is in an area of approximately 136,000 acres and is out of control.
Environment Canada issued air quality statements due to smoke on Thursday for the Atikokan, Dryden, Ignace, Fort Frances, Kenora, Red Lake, Pikangikum and Sioux Lookout areas.
A restricted fire zone continues to apply in Kenora, Fort Frances, Dryden, and Thunder Bay counties and parts of Sioux Lookout, Red Lake, and Nipigon counties. Burning outdoors is prohibited in these areas.
Last week the province issued an emergency ordinance for northwestern Ontario that allows Ontario to take special measures “to keep people safe and protect critical property.”
Earlier this week, the province announced that it was introducing new restrictions on certain mining, railroad, construction and transportation operations that have the potential to cause sparks and start fires. the restrictions apply to certain specific drilling operations using heavy machinery with rubber tires and no chains and the grinding of rail production in the area.
It is the second time the province has announced restrictions for the Northwest under the Emergency Ordinance. On Monday, the province announced restrictions on the use of mechanized equipment and power saws for harvesting or working wood, as well as welding, torching and grinding.
The restrictions remain in place until further notice.