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Wooded area fire evacuees from 2 northwestern Ontario First Nations to start heading home after nearly a month

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Wooded area fire evacuees from 2 northwestern Ontario First Nations to start heading home after nearly a month

Evacuees from two northwestern Ontario First Nations who have been staying in Thunder Bay for nearly a month are expected to return home within the arriving days.

Early Newspaper
More than 115 wooded area fires were burning in northwestern Ontario as of Monday morning. (Ontario Wooded area Fires/Twitter)

Evacuees from two northwestern Ontario First Nations who have been staying in Thunder Bay for nearly a month are expected to start returning home within the arriving days.

About 385 Poplar Hill residents and extra than 400 from Deer Lake have been staying in Thunder Bay.

Eric Nordlund, Thunder Bay’s deputy fire chief, said Monday that Poplar Hill community participants may start returning home as early as Tuesday, whereas flights to Deer Lake may start on Thursday.

“That’s the original plans,” Nordlund said, adding the exact timeline depends upon on “logistics of discovering and scheduling aircraft and the flights.”

Jonathan Scott, fire information officer with Aviation, Wooded area Fire and Emergency Companies and products (AFFES), said the fires that caused the evacuations of Deer Lake and Poplar Hill have slowed due to suppression efforts and fresh rainfall:

  • Pink Lake 65, burning about six kilometres west of Poplar Hill, is now about 19,700 hectares, and smouldering with some viewed smoke.
  • Pink Lake 51, at about 52,000 hectares and located about 24 kilometres west of Deer Lake, is also smouldering with some viewed smoke.

The scheduling of flights for the two communities returning home can be handled by the province, Nordlund said.

The provincial Ministry of the Solicitor General confirmed it is ancitipated evacuees from Deer Lake and Poplar Hill can be returning home this week, but no further details were equipped.

Nordlund said the 2021 fire season has been a busy one.

“We saw, certainly, extra other folks come out all at once,” he said. “It stretched our capacity a bit.”

“But in doing so, it also forced our hand to say, ‘OK, how can we be better at this, and how can we … extra neatly retort to the requests of our fellow community participants in northwest Ontario, to assist them out in a time of want, and work with the province and the federal govt to meet these wants?'”

“And that means building capacity within our gain organization.”

Restricted fire zone in attain

As of Monday morning, 116 wooded area fires were burning in northwestern Ontario.

A restricted fire zone remains in attain within the Kenora, Castle Frances, Dryden and Thunder Bay districts, and parts of the Sioux Lookout, Pink Lake and Nipigon districts. Out of doors burning is illegal in these areas.

Scott said fresh rainfall has decreased behaviour on fires within the plot, but hasn’t had a “great impact” on the overall severity of contemporary conditions.

“They are calling for extra rain,” Scott said. “That may give us a few days of decreased fire behaviour and cut back the fire hazard.

“But over the following couple of days, they are saying that there may be a drying pattern.”

Considerations about drying pattern

Scott said the drying pattern may force the fire hazard back up.

Wooded area fire activity within the plot has also led to the partial evacuations of Pikangikum, Wabaseemoong, North Spirit Lake and Cat Lake.

Some residents of Pikangikum are being hosted in Thunder Bay by the Impartial First Nations Alliance, however the province said Tuesday the evacuees are within the strategy of returning home.

The province also said evacuees from Cat Lake had returned home as of Sunday.

The province has also issued an emergency narrate for northwestern Ontario that allows it to take special measures “to make clear the safety of oldsters and the safety of critical property.”

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

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Wooded area fire evacuees from 2 northwestern Ontario First Nations to start heading home after nearly a month