The number of forest fires in northern Ontario continues to grow with a total of 48 active fires in the region, including 33 that are not yet under control. Only two months into the fire season and there have already been more than double the total number in 2022.
As of Sunday morning, there are 31 active forest fires in the northeast and 17 in the northwest.
Of those active fires, 19 in the northeast and 14 in the northwest are not yet under control.
In the last 24 hours, 11 new fires have started in the northeast. Included are two in Algonquin Park District near Pembroke, a 101-hectare (ha) fire in the Chapleau district, 30-ha fire east of Cochrane, a 12-ha fire in the Hearst district, a 0.3-ha fire in the North Bay district, and five new wildfires in the Sudbury district ranging from 0.1 ha to 30 ha.
It is proving to be a very busy season as 97 wildfires have already been put out since the first one started in the Parry Sound area April 12. This surpasses the 78 total fires in Ontario’s fire region in 2022.
Two of the three biggest fires in northern Ontario are still out of control, while the largest Red Lake 5 is being observed at 12,742.4 ha.
Sioux Lookout 7 has reached 9,285.1 ha and Wawa 3 has reached 6,810.6 ha.
High levels of air pollution continue in the region due to the forest fire smoke.
A special air quality statement is in effect for Greater Sudbury and vicinity, Elliot Lake and Ranger Lake.
“Wildfire smoke can be harmful to everyone’s health even at low concentrations. Everyone can take action to reduce their exposure to wildfire smoke,” Environment Canada said in a weather alert.
“Stop or reduce your activity level if breathing becomes uncomfortable or you or someone in your care feel unwell. Contact your health care provider or local health authority if you develop severe symptoms or need advice.”
Everyone responds differently to smoke but people with heart or lung disease – such as asthma – are at higher risk of experiencing negative health effects. Older adults, children, pregnant people and those who work outside are also at higher risk.
At 12:01 a.m. June 1, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry put the entire region under a restricted fire zone, which bans all open-air burning. The penalty for breaking the ban is a fine of up to $25,000, three months in prison and financial responsibility for any costs incurred in fighting a forest fire.
Many municipalities also have fire bans in place.