Skip to content

UPDATED: 70 new forest fires broke out in Northwestern Ontario on Tuesday

Some residents of Cat Lake and North Spirit Lake First Nations will be taken to safety starting Wednesday
Forest fire July 20
165 forest fires were burning in Northwestern Ontario on July 20, 2021 (MNDMNRF photo)

THUNDER BAY — Tuesday was the busiest day of what has already been a hectic few weeks for forest firefighters in Northwestern Ontario.

The Aviation, Forest Fires and Emergency Services agency reported 70 new fires as of 8:37 p.m. EDT.

That brought the number of active fires in the Northwest Region alone to 165, including 84 that are not under control.

Twenty of the new fires were in the Red Lake district, and 24 were in the Sioux Lookout district.

With no sign of imminent relief from fire threats, residents of two more Northwestern Ontario First Nations are to be flown to safety in other communities starting Wednesday.

The Ministry of the Solicitor General says partial evacuations are planned for both North Spirit Lake and Cat Lake due to their proximity to forest fires.

Spokesperson Brent Ross said community leaders requested shelter for vulnerable residents out of concern over the impact of smoke on their health.

There are several fires burning as close as nine kilometres from North Spirit Lake and within 10 kilometres of Cat Lake.

About 1,500 people from Deer Lake First Nation and Poplar Hill First Nation have already been given shelter elsewhere.

Approximately 1,100 vulnerable residents of Pikangikum First Nation have also left their community, and the evacuation is ongoing.

Cities and towns providing refuge to date include Thunder Bay, Kenora, Sioux Lookout, Kapuskasing, Cochrane, Timmins, Greater Sudbury and the NAV Centre in Cornwall.

Dryden and Ottawa are acting as hubs for evacuees, and Sault Ste. Marie is preparing to provide additional support.

Ross said the province will continue to collaborate closely with participating First Nations, municipalities, the federal government and the non-governmental organization sector to ensure that the necessary resources are deployed to protect people impacted by wildfires.

Note: This story was updated at 9:42 pm to include new data about the number of active fires in Northwestern Ontario

Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
Read more


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks