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Forest fire outbreaks declined in 2019

Two large fires in the Red Lake district accounted for half the total area burned.
Pikangikum evacuation
Pikangikum First Nation residents arrived at Thunder Bay International Airport on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (Tbnewswatch file)

TORONTO — Data from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry shows there were far fewer forest fires in Ontario this year than last, but the devastation was about the same.

The 2019 wildfire season officially ended on Oct. 31.

There were 537 fires this year, well down from the 1,324 fires that occurred in 2018, and considerably below the 10-year average of 855 fires.

But the number of hectares burned over the course of the season was roughly the same as last year, at 270,000 hectares.

More than half the forest destruction occurred in the Red Lake district, where two large fires scored over 140,000 hectares.

There was a drastic impact on Pikangikum First Nation, where evacuations were ordered in June and again in July.

About 1,000 Pikangikum residents were given shelter in Thunder Bay.