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Destruction from forest fires jumps sharply

2018 is the second-worst fire season in Northwestern Ontario in 15 years.
Forest fire Kenora 71 July 2018
Kenora district fire # 71, in July 2018 (MNRF photo)

DRYDEN, ON —  Wildfires have destroyed about 200,000 hectares of northwestern Ontario forest so far this fire season.

That is more than three times the amount of forest that was burned across the region last year.

Data obtained by Tbnewswatch from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry shows that as of Sept. 20, the total damaged area this season was 198,626 hectares.

By contrast, only 63,400 hectares of forest was burned last year.

The 2018 fire damage is the second worst in the northwest in the past 15 years.

Since 2004, the region's only worse fire season was in 2011, when 632,000 hectares went up in smoke.  A comparable number of fires occurred in the northwest that year (908 vs. 838 so far this year) but the destruction in 2011 was significantly more extensive.

The fire season officially ends at the end of October.

Experts say Ontario's wildfire season is getting longer due to climate change.

They say as forests get drier, they become more susceptible to fires started by lightning.