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Forest fire near Manitoba border grows to more than 9,000 hectares

Kenora Fire 71 has grown more than 6,000 hectares in four days and forced the evacuation of vulnerable members of Wabaseemoong First Nation.

KENORA, Ont. - Fire crews with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry continue to battle numerous forest fires throughout the region, including a substantial fire north of Wabaseemoong First Nation that has grown to more than 9,000 hectares.

There are 77 active forest fires in the region as of Saturday evening. Of the fires, 62 are under observation, being held, or under control.

The fire known as Kenora 71, located 26 kilometres north of Wabaseemoong First Nation near the Manitoba border was discovered on July 15. Since its discovery, it has grown substantially, reaching 3,000 hectares in just three days and it has now grown to 9,174 hectares.

According to the MNRF, the fire is not threatening the community of Wabaseemoong, however, late last week, between 70 and 80 vulnerable members of the community were evacuated to Rat Portage First Nation because of air quality concerns.

Smoke from the fire has travelled as far as Kenora. Crews continue to battle the fire with the help of heavy bucket helicopters and water lines. There are concerns that the return of warm weather could increase the fire behaviour.

The MNRF has issued an Emergency Area Order for the Kenora 71 Fire. This order restricts travel on Werner Lake Road and any Crown land use or travel in the boundaries of the area.

Access to some areas of Woodland Caribou Provincial Park has also been restricted due to several large fires burning in the vicinity.  

Despite several large fires burning in the region, the fire hazard remains low to moderate in the western portions of the region and moderate to high in the eastern portions.

Doug Diaczuk

About the Author: Doug Diaczuk

Doug Diaczuk is a reporter and award-winning author from Thunder Bay. He has a master’s degree in English from Lakehead University
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